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12 Types of Knives You Need for Survival

There is no more iconic piece of warrior equipment than the naked blade. Mankind has been hunting, warring, and killing for thousands of years. Though technology may advance, materials get better, new techniques are developed, the human remains the same. He still requires food, clothing, shelter, and protection from harm. With those motivations driving him, man learned to hunt, build, and fight.

It may not be as necessary in the modern world as it did when men still lived in the bush, but a man never went without his knife. This was a symbol of his manhood, a tool he lived by, and a weapon he would kill or die with in his hands. This single tool put man not just on par with the animals with tooth and claw, but ahead of them and at the top of the food chain. Though we are predators we were born without the ability to cut into our prey. The invention of the knife gave us that ability.

Knives gave us the ability to cut and with that opened up a world of possibilities. We could hunt larger game. We could cut trees to build stronger shelters. We were better able to defend ourselves against animals. And yes, we were able to kill one another with greater efficiency. There is not one piece of equipment, no single tool, which has the versatility and adaptability of the knife.

In the beginning the knife was nothing more than sharp sticks and then broken and sharped rocks. It was not until men learned to heat, mold, and shape metal that the modern knife really came into being. Initially the knife was straight with a single or double edge. Then men learned the cutting power of curving a blade.

Over the years, blade design has birthed a wide range of different knives for different purposes. The goal has always been and will always be to cut something but conditions change, circumstances change, environments change. For example a scuba diver may have a knife that is resistant to corrosion, may have a thicker blade for prying, and have a flat solid steel butt plate to use as a hammer.

With situations being different but many requiring a blade in some form or fashion I have written this article to discuss some knife choices and the pros and cons of each. Maybe you will learn something from this and it will aid you in your knife buying decisions. For the sake of clarity and simplicity I will only discuss those knife types that have direct applications to survival and nothing as specialized as, say a fine wood working carving knife.

#1 Tactical Folder

A tactical folder is a type of pocket knife that can be deployed with little effort and with either hand. It is constructed to allow the user to deploy the blade with a single hand. Most if not all tactical folders come equipped with a belt clip allowing one to affix it to a belt, a pocket, or any thin sturdy piece of material. The beauty of a tactical folder is that it can be worn in manners that are most advantageous to the user.

Tactical folders are tactical because they have the advantage of being able to be put into use from relatively any position. A user may be lying on his back, upside down, tied to a tree, or have another hand occupied at the time. As long as the user has a free hand and access to his knife he can employ it with relative ease.

Most tactical folders are designed to fit inside of a pocket. The blade varies in size but is relatively small compared its fixed blade counter parts. The blades of most tactical folding pocket knives are between three and six inches. Any shorter and the blades wouldn’t be particularly useful and any longer they would be beyond the realm of practicality. Having a folding knife with a foot long blade would be cumbersome to say the least.

combo edge knife

Blade design varies slightly depending on the knife. Most often manufacturers assume the user will require a knife that can be applicable in many situations, most of which are in a field type environment. Campers, Hikers, Soldiers, Police, Firefighters, Medics, Workers, and the general public carry and use tactical folders. Their employment is largely dictated by the job they need to get done. A camper may need to cut up kindling for a fire where a hiker may need to cut lengths of Para cord for lashing down gear.

To the prepper, this knife would be invaluable. You will of course have many other knife choices but the tactical folder should be one of your first choices and kept close at hand. If left with nothing at all you only need your knife and you can make due with a bit of improvisation and imagination. The limitation is really your own mind. Like I stated earlier a good knife is worth a field kit of equipment but having said that the real tool is a diverse mind. Get yourself a tactical folder.

Recommendation: Spyderco Tenacious Combo Edge Tactical Folding Knife

 

ems knife

#2 EMS Knife

Now that you have a tactical folder you may want to upgrade to what I call an EMS or first responder knife. For those that don’t know EMS stands for emergency medical services and first responders are those that are trained to render aid when first to arrive on the scene of an accident. Firefighters, police, paramedics, and EMT’s all fall into this category. Military personnel also fall into this category depending on the situation.

The EMS knife is the upgraded cousin of the tactical folder. It has all of the same features of the tactical folder. It can be opened and manipulated with one hand easily. It has a belt clip so that it can be carried in a variety of places and fashions around the body. Its blade is large enough to work with and small enough to not be cumbersome.

The upgrades come in the form of other tools build into the frame of the knife. Emergency personnel coming upon a car accident may see a person trapped inside of a vehicle unconscious and bleeding to death. They would need to rapidly extricate that victim and render aid. When a car is damaged there is a chance that the door may not be able to function properly. At this point the EMS will make the decision to break though the tempered safety glass of the passenger window.

The EMS knife is equipped with a small pointed protrusion at the base of the frame. This is a glass breaker for just such an instance. With minimal effort the emergency technician can ball his knife into his fist and effectively shatter the window with a well-placed strike using the glass breaker. Once the window is broken if the emergency tech is unable to remove the victim from their restraint harness the EMS knife has a remedy for that as well.

Near the base of the knife there is a cut out just wide enough for a thick belt or strap to fit into. Inside this cut out wedged into the frame of the knife is a razor sharp blade no more than a quarter of an inch long that is specifically designed to cut though a seat belt. This can be done relatively safely as compared to trying to use a naked blade and risk further injury to the victim or worse yet injury to the emergency tech. The last thing needed in an emergency is more victims being made.

The loan prepper may one day come upon an motor vehicle crash and only be equipped with his/her EMS knife. With this tool and a little know how they will be more than equipped to handle the situation. On the opposite end of the spectrum the prepper may be the one that is the victim of a motor vehicle crash and must save their own ass because no help is coming. Cut you belt and break you way out. That EMS knife by your side will be a great asset to your survival.

Recommendation: Snake Eye Tactical EMS Rescue Knife

 

swiss arny knife

#3. Swiss Army Knife

The Swiss army knife is the iconic knife of the boy scouts. It is a multi-tooled, multi-bladed, multi-function knife. These knives are not like tactical folders or EMS knives. They are folding pocket knives but that is about where their similarities end. These knives usually do not have locking blade, are not for doing heavy work, and required both hands to open and close safely.

Where they come out ahead of more robust pocket knives is in the area of versatility. Where single or even double bladed pocket knives require a bit of imagination to be versatile the Swiss army has it built right into the knife. Believe it or not there are some models with over thirty different functions and tools. Some can get downright ridiculous with the number of devices crammed into a single knife but most are practical enough and very useful.

Many basic models have tools on both sides of the knife that can be unfolded and used. Many have two blades, a long blade and a short blade. Some models will have a tooth pick and tweezers as well as screwdrivers built into the knife. Other models may have everything from a fish scaler to a light tree saw great for small branches.

Originally the knife was made as a field tool for the Swiss army to field strip and care for their service rifles. It was equipped with a blade, a screwdriver, a reamer, and a can opener. Now there are various models specifically designed for whatever activity you are undertaking. Some of the more popular models are made for camping and hiking, climbing, hunting, tinkering, and even opening wine bottles.

Having at least one of these in your pack could not hurt. They are relatively light weight and come in real handy when you are missing your tool kit. I am more than certain that you can find a model that will satisfy your needs. Most, if not all, models have a key ring so you can attach them to your car or house keys. It would be little effort to lash a strop through that ring and wear this handy knife around your neck. It could save your life one day.

Recommendation: Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife

 

hunting knife

#4 Hunting Knife

Now we will move away from the folding knives and into the world of the fixed blade knife. These are knives that you must keep in some sort of scabbard or sheath for safety. There are small models but since most of these knives will be worn on a belt or in a boot and not inside of a pocket they can be a bit larger that a folding blade.

The hunting knife is a fixed blade knife that is designed for the tasks one encounters while on the trail of game big and small. The hunting knife is mainly designed to do two things; skin an animal and field strip the animal for food. The blades of hunting knives are usually wide, relatively slim, and have a single straight cutting edge. Some models have a gut hook for opening the belly of an animal without puncturing its internal organs and tainting the meat.

As these knives are not for stabbing some of the blades will have a curved edge for fine cutting and slicing. Field stripping the animal once killed makes the game more manageable. Instead of trying to carry a single large animal back home or to camp the hunter can cut it up into manageable pieces and carried. Also the animal can be skinned to have the pelt for making clothing.

For survival purposes, you’ll want to have at least one hunting knife kept sharp and ready to go when the hunt is on. Though many of the jobs of the hunting knife can be done with other knives it is always more efficient to have the right tool for the job. When hunting, take a hunting knife.

Recommendation: Buck Knives 0120 General Fixed Blade Hunting Knife

 

survival knife

#5. Survival Knife

A survival knife is also a fixed blade knife similar to a hunting knife but it is designed specifically for surviving various scenarios. When surviving you must remember the rule of threes. You can survive for about three hours in harsh conditions, three days without water, and three weeks without food. These are general guidelines and not hard rules as everyone is different and require different levels of nourishment but bear with me.

The survival knife was designed to aid an individual in the acquisition of food, water, and shelter. Survival knives have many of the same features as a hunting knife as it was intended to skin and strip animals for use but they also have features that are quite unique. For example, there are models that have a compass hidden in a small compartment in the handle. If by chance a hike gets lost he can unscrew a portion of his survival knife and find a small liquid filled compass to help find his way.

There are many models that have hollow grips where one can stash small fishing hooks and a length of fishing line, a bit of minor first aid equipment, or fire starting materials, matches, striker, tender, etc. Some have blades with serrations on its spine and can be used as a saw. Other models have sturdy enough blade that they can be lashed to the end of a tree limb and used as a spear tip.

Recommendation: Maxam SKJK Survival Knife

 

ka-bar knife

#6 Ka-Bar

The Ka-Bar is the iconic standard issue knife of the United States Marine. Now we move into the realm of utility and fighting knives. The Ka-Bar, so named because someone used one of the early models to kill a bear, is perhaps the great, great grandchild of the Bowie knife. It has evolved from a frontiersman’s field knife so it was always both a utility and fighting instrument.

The modern Ka-Bar is a fixed blade design with a single edge and robust leather handle. These knives were designed to fill out a hand and made to do heavy work. The blade is made thick for digging and prying if necessary. The tip is diamond shaped which gives it strength and stability for stabbing. It can be used as a hunting and survival knife but seeing as how it is issued to fighting men it works very well as a weapon.

This knife is the largest of the blades we have discussed so far with a blade length of seven inches. For the prepper this knife would serve well as a survival tool for chopping as it could be placed against a log and hit with another stick effectively acting as a wedge. This would take a little work but one could make do without an axe if need be. As a defensive weapon the Ka-Bar would inflict massive amounts of damage due to blade length and width. If someone were stabbed or slashed with a Ka-Bar the wound channel it created would be catastrophic.

Recommendation: KA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife

 

bulgarian army bayonet

#7 Bayonet

Sticking with the modern war fighter utility/fighting knife we shall move on to the bayonet. Now a bayonet is a special type of fighting knife. It is constructed first for use as a weapon and has secondary functions as tools. Bayonets vary in length from very long, maybe a foot, down to the shorter end of the spectrum, six to eight inches. The largest characteristic that makes the bayonet stand out from other knives is that is meant to be attached to a fighting rifle.

The bayonet is designed with a combination of special cross guard and grip features that allow the wielder to affix the blade to the end of their rifle. Now we are able to buy bayonets that can be used as utility knives and working tools. Earlier bayonets were long slim instruments that were solely for driving into an opponent. They did not really have a cutting edge as they were not mean for slashing attacks. Instead the weapon’s profile would be a star or triangular pattern to cause an irregular wound channel.

Bayonets can be purchased easily enough online or from your local military surplus. Choosing a bayonet will depend on the rifle you carry. Truly the only reason to pack a bayonet is so it can eventually be used on the end of a rifle. It is a very sturdy utility knife and was designed to take hard use but most of them are heavy and unless you were planning on putting it on the end of your rifle will just weigh you down.

But if you do have a rifle or shotgun with the bayonet lug that allows you to equip your bayonet then you will be the proud wielder of one of the kings of hand to hand combat, the spear. It has been overshadowed by the sword in media but the true weapon of a warrior and hunter was and always will be the spear. This is the grandfather of modern weaponry. The invention of the spear is when men learned to kill with increased range and flexibility. Spears can be thrusted as well as thrown.

To you, and depending on the rifle you own, the rifle with fixed bayonet is a total weapon system.  Once your weapon runs dry and you begin to close with the enemy you engage him in close combat using your rifle as a spear, striking with the bayonet and smashing with the butt end of the stock. If you must engage an enemy in smother close range then you will discard your rifle and resort to your bayonet in hand.

Though thereare many to choose from the weapon and bayonet combination I favor is the AK47 and the AKM type 1. I would choose this combination because the reliability of the AK47 is legendary. Possibly being in an austere type of environment where reliability is a factor I would want to have something that requires little maintenance. Also the sheath for the AKM type 1 and the blade itself can lock together and function as a wire cutter. The multi-functionality of this device is appealing to me.

Recommendation: Bayonet AK47 AK74 Bulgarian Army

 

kukri knife

#8 Kukri

On to the next largest knife on the list the kukri is a big bastard of a knife from Nepal. This is a very distinct heavy blade with an inward curve. You will know it when you see it as it looks like a boomerang. This is the utility and fighting knife of the Gurkha army. The Gurkha were such badass soldiers and hard fighters that the knife took on their name. In time the kukri was known as the Gurkha knife.

This knife has a blade that is significantly larger and heavier than the seven inch Ka-Bar of the United States Marine Corps. The kukri is closer to a machete than a knife. It has a single cutting edge and a blade curve that can be called severe for beheading an opponent. Being a field knife made for chopping the kukri is well suited for a jungle environment where thick brush may be an obstacle. The kukri can make short work of hanging limbs and vines when forging a path through dense growth.

As a fighting knife the kukri affords the wielder a variety of options. Your standard hammer grip and icepick grip are really the best ways to hold the kukri. You need a strong firm grip due to the weight of the blade and the balance. It is very front end heavy, great for hacking and chopping. Traditionally the handle is capped with a brass or steel butt plate for pummeling an opponent and the apex of the curve can be used as a striking surface as well if the knife were held in a hammer grip with the blade facing the user.

The kukri is not made for fine work. It is somewhat of a cross between a knife and an axe. The blade is thick enough to pry thing up with and heavy enough to hack down small trees. The spine of the blade is wide enough to use as a hammer or even drive a nail if the user is skillful enough to hit such a fine point.

Recommendation: Genuine Nepal Army Service Kukri

 

karambit knife

#9 Karambit

I cannot very well discuss uniquely designed knives without mentioning the karambit. This knife began as a Southeast Asian farmer’s hand tool for cutting grass, digging up roots, and planting rice. The blade has a curve so sharp that the blade’s point may be perpendicular to the hilt. The karambit is single, double, and even triple edged in some cases. Traditional karambit had a hilt constructed of wood, ivory, or water buffalo horn.

This tools most distinct feature is the finger ring at the base of the hilt. This hole allows the user to place a finger through it for added leverage when cutting. The ring fits around the smallest finger when the tool is gripped and the blade is on the thumb side of the hand or the ring goes around the index finger when the blade is held in the reverse grip. The blade has a grand curve that was inspired by the curve of a tiger’s claw.

The karambit is medium sized and light weight, ideal for carrying easily and drawing quickly. It would be a sad working implement if it fell through a belt, were too heavy to carry all day, and snagged on clothing when you were out in the fields. Originally it was a fixed blade knife with a scabbard made of wood or water buffalo horn. In the modern world there are folding pocket versions that can be clipped to a belt or inside of a pocket.

As a weapon this blade can be devastating. A skilled individual wielding a karambit is a force of nature. The weapon affords the user an assortment of option for attack and defense. The curve of the blade makes for very powerful ripping and deep gouging attacks. The ring ensures that the user will not drop the weapon and have a hard time being disarmed. The ring also adds leverage to cuts, a bonus when you have the need to work through thick clothing in a fight.

A secondary bonus to the finger ring is it can be used as a striking surface. Depending on what material it is constructed from, if it can handle the abuse of multiple impacts it can be used as a single knuckle duster. This feature is somewhat similar to the trench knife of WW1. In close combat a person with a karambit can seamlessly integrate knife fighting with their hand to hand methods. This knife allows the user to keep the hand the knife is in free to be used as a fist if a less than lethal technique is required.

Recommendation: Grand Way 2534 MP

 

military machete

#10 Machete

Now there shouldn’t be a man, woman, or child alive today that is not familiar in some way to this big knife. Weather they have used one, seen one used, or watched a slasher horror movie they should have at some point been exposed to this tool. This is the longest blade on this list at about two feet. The machete is the ideal survival tool if ever you find yourself in a jungle type environment. Watch any documentary on people indigenous to a jungle and you will see them with machete close at hand.

This tool is a great universal cutter. Given its size it is light enough to do relatively fine work as well as fell trees, and I’m not just talking saplings. I have seen trees wide enough to crush a man be hacked down with machete. The blade is not a hard inflexible piece of steel, quite the opposite in fact. The blade seems so flimsy and insignificant that is may break with heavy use.

The secret is that, that flimsiness is its strength. Being so thin and light allows it to be swung with great speed and its flexible nature gives it a high degree of resilience. Where a stiffer blade will bend or even break with a poorly angled cut, the machete is forgiving. Instead of bending or breaking the machete will just bounce off like a leaf spring. Beware; this is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because you can trust your tool will not break and a curse because there is a chance the damn thing can vibrate right out of your hand.

As a weapon, it has the greatest standoff distance of any of the knives. Any sizing up from the machete and we get into the realm of swords and we should save that for another list. The machete is light and fast. It does not deliver anything in the way of kinetic damage but it being so thin makes it extremely dangerous. A sharp and well maintained machete can be used to cut grasses and vines one day and take an arm or leg of with a single swipe the next day.

Weight is always an issue when bugging out. The machete would be a great blade to throw onto the side of a pack or slip into your belt.

Recommendation: Ontario Knife Co 1-18” Military Machete

 

throwing knife set

#11 Throwing Knives

You being a prepper are by nature a practical person. I know what you are thinking about this article. WHY WOULD I EVER THROW MY WEAPON?! Though it may seem a bit silly and driven by modern television, I want you to consider the throwing knife. Before I get into this weapon I would like to dispel myths. Movies have us believe that you can throw a knife hard enough to go into a man’s skull and kill him from fifteen yards. Movies will have us believe that you can throw a knife hard enough to pierce through a man’s chest plate and into his heart. I will be the first to tell you that these are simply not true.

Now that the myths are dispelled let’s get into the real world of the throwing knife, its practical uses. There are many different designs of throwing knives. Some designs have a single blade while others have multiple blades like the star shuriken of the Japanese shinobi. The straight bladed versions will have a blade on one end or both ends to increase the chances of a successful hit. They will be single edged or double edged.

The sizes of throwing knives will vary. They can be small enough to fit in the palm or so large that you would need a small hand bag to carry them. Throwing knives usually have a skeleton or bare handle. Designs forgo putting grips in them or wrapping the handle because it will affect the flight of the knife. Throwing knives are weighted so that they will strike point first when thrown. They are very front end heavy.

There are models of throwing knives that can double as fighting knives or working knives. An example would be the ninja’s kunai that is popular in the anime sub culture. The kunai we see on anime with the long diamond shaped blade and ring at the base of the grip is the stylized version. The actual knife had a wide blade that resembled a Zulu spear tip and could be used for all sorts of tasks including a throwing implement.

The true purpose and power of the throwing knife is as a distraction. In hunting small game it may be possible to kill but as a fighting weapon it was never meant to kill outright. Their use in combat was to be thrown at an enemy to break his focus so one could follow up with a killing blow. The shinobi were known to poison their shuriken. They would only need to pierce the skin of their enemy and then just wait for him to weaken before closing in for the kill.

Throwing a knife and getting it to strike point first at different distances takes much time and practice. If you are planning on carrying them you will also want to plan on learning how to throw then and schedule weekly if not daily training sessions.

Recommendation: Avias Knife Supply 9 inch 3 Piece Stainless Steel Throwing Knife Set

 

#12 Shiv

Lastly I would like to mention the shiv or as some like to call it the prison shank. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why would I have all kinds of different store bought knives in my pack and on my belt and keep a cheap piece of scrap metal with a duct tape handle? Why wouldn’t I just carry another well-made knife instead? I will answer that with another question. What are you? You are a prepper right? Your very nature is being prepared for what comes next.

What is a shiv? Discussing knives as survival instruments we should go back to the original knives. They were sharp sticks, broken rocks, and filed bone fragments. In short the first knives were all shivs. Then technology advanced and they just got better. Before that men made knives with whatever they had at hand. There are some obsidian (volcanic glass) knives that hold an edge that is sharper than surgical steel.

So Which One(s) Should You Get?

This section is less about a knife and more about the knowledge and training to improvise a knife when the situation calls for it. What if you were stranded on a deserted island with nothing but the trees and rocks? Could you make a spear to hunt with or a knife to cut your meat, and an axe to chop the logs for your shelter? If you can then you can skip this section because you are already familiar with what I am going to call shiv technology.

You should know how to improvise a cutting tool with almost anything and in almost any environment. You may need it for shaping sticks for small game traps or defending yourself from larger animals. A little knowledge goes a long way with a bit of imagination. Just stick to the basics. You need an edge for cutting, a point for puncturing, and a handle for gripping. As long as you satisfy those you are in good shape.

Chances are you will have an assortment of different blades for different purposes and multiples of the same blade but for different loadouts. You may keep a machete, a Swiss army, and an EMS knife in the trunk of your car, while you have your tactical folder in your pocket and Ka-Bar on your belt. Then you will have a different combination of knives on or in your pack. The choices and combinations are without end. Just remember to never go without your blade.

The post 12 Types of Knives You Need for Survival appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

Glock 19 Gen 4 Review

First off, I wish to thank my readers who’ve trusted my articles since the beginning. I pride my articles in the fact that I provide factual (as well as opinionated) evidence for everything that I write about. In order for a handgun review to be legitimate, the person writing the review needs to have first-hand experience with what they review. I decided to write a review of the Glock 19 Gen 4 for two reasons; it’s a very popular handgun model, and I feel like you need to learn the truth regarding them.

Glock has been around since 1963 when it was founded by Gaston Glock, and has been an outstanding company with great products ever since. In 1981, the first Glock handgun was born, along with their revolutionary “Safe Action” system. In 1982, the Austrian Army awarded a contract to Glock after an international competition for the contract. The rest after that, is history!

Glock handguns haven’t always been perfect. In fact, they have a very dark history that almost ended the Glock industry’s reputation altogether. In the early stages of the Glock 17 Gen 1 (and even some Gen 2’s), the handgun had a tendency to discharge a round after being loaded on its own. This caused major speculation as to if Glocks were safe altogether, and almost brought the quickly-growing industry to its knees.

After major modifications to their trigger assembly, as well as their striker system, new Glocks began to hit the market. This ended up being their saving grace, because the consumer market loved the modifications. Growing up, I’ve always been around Glock handguns, because my parents were both police officers. Because of this, I’m naturally biased towards them to start with.

Every handgun needs to be judged by three major categories; durability, dependability, and compatibility. Without having positive reviews, and features for all three, the handgun isn’t worth purchasing in my opinion. A big mistake that handgun owners make, is they read one review regarding a handgun that’s mostly opinionated (but flashy) and decide they want it because it looks cool. In this article, I’ll provide you with first-hand feedback of my Glock 19 Gen 4, along with pros and cons.

Durability

Glock barrels and slides are made of quality steel that is treated with a special “Tenifer” process. This process enriches the steel with oxygen, thus sealing the pores of the steel. After the process is complete, the steel is more resistant to corrosion as well as strengthening it. Glock slides and barrels are as hard as an industrial diamond on the Rockwell scale, making them extremely durable.

Glock frames are made from an extremely durable polymer that is stronger than steel, or aluminum, but is lighter than both of them. The Glock frame is immune to corrosion (because they’re not made of metal), as well as lubricant and solvents used for cleaning. The best part about Glock frames, is that they can withstand up to 400-degrees Fahrenheit of direct heat. Most users refer to Glocks as “indestructible”, and rightfully so (though, nothing is completely indestructible).

There are a lot of amateur “stress test” videos on YouTube for handguns, including the Glock 19 gen 4. A lot of these tests are done in such a manner that would never be seen in the real world if you take care of your handgun, and have decent weapon-retention. Most of the tests I’ve seen involve dumping dirt down the open slide. In what alternate reality would you ever carry your Glock with the slide open, and then proceed to jam dirt into it? Don’t fall for amateur stress tests, they’re idiotic and should never be allowed to make videos again.

Dependability

At the bottom of this article, I attached a video of me shooting the “Three-Mag Distance Drill”. This was at the end of my 550-round stress test (with sub-par Remington 115gr 9mm FMJ ammunition). I successfully fired all 550 rounds within 45 minutes, and did not have a single malfunction. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical before conducting the test, because it’s rare to put that many rounds down range without having one single malfunction. After the test, I was truly impressed with not just the dependability of the Gen 4, but also with the overall performance.

There’s a reason that Glocks are chosen by more than 60% of police departments across the United States (along with other countries). They’ve been proven to be dependable during stressful, and urgent life or death situations. One thing I love about Glocks, is their (updated) safety features. They do not have a manual safety, making them a great handgun for quick target engagements.

Compatibility / Customizability

It’s no secret that Glock handguns are very customizable for any owner who wishes to alter (or add attachments to) their model. The Glock 19 Gen 4 is no different, most attachments that are made for handguns are available for use with the Gen 4. A great feature that the Gen 4 offers, is the backstrap that comes with each one (when you buy them brand new).

The backstrap enables the user to customize the grip, making it slightly bigger to fit larger hands. The backstraps are easily installed (simply by clipping it onto the back of the grip). However, I’ve noticed that mine falls off easily. This could be an issue for shooters with larger hands that become familiar shooting their Gen 4 with the backstrap attached, and then the backstrap falls off.

The Glock 19 Gen 4 is not as easy to conceal as more compact Glocks (i.e. the Glock 43), but it is still possible to use it as a concealed carry weapon. For open carry, I love the BlackHawk Serpa Sportster Paddle Holster. I personally carry my Gen 4 with this holster, because of its retainability. With a simple depression of a button (generally with your index finger), you can release the weapon from the holster for quick access. However, without depressing the button, it’s virtually impossible to remove from its holster. This allows you to retain your weapon in case someone tries to disarm you forcibly.

glock 19 gen 4

Feel

I have what could be considered medium-sized hands for a man in his 20’s. The Gen 4 fit perfectly in my hand without having to use a backstrap, and the built-in finger grooves made it a very comfortable fit. I will be buying a grip sleeve to slide onto the grip, but that’s just for added comfortability during long-term engagements. During my initial 550-round test, I did not use a grip sleeve and it felt just fine without sliding around in my hands.

The balance of the Gen 4 seems a bit top-heavy when it’s unloaded. However, when you load a magazine into it, it balances out just fine. While firing, the balance remains true to a thumbs-forward grip. I generally prefer the thumbs-forward grip because it allows me to control the weapon more than any other method. What I love about a well-balanced handgun, is the ability to aim down the sights without having to compensate for a front-heavy feel.

The weight was definitely bearable when I engaged targets up to 25 yards away. However, I am in decent shape and I may have a different experience than you. I tested fatigue while holding the Gen 4 in my firing stance while fully loaded (15 rounds in the magazine, plus one in the chamber), and I found that I was able to keep my sight on target for over two minutes without shaking. This is a huge plus for me, because if I need extra time to acquire my target, I need to be confident that I can do so without becoming fatigued.

trigger squeeze

Trigger Squeeze

The trigger squeeze was very smooth, and very light (for factory standards). Glocks come with an external integrated trigger safety, meaning that you must depress the trigger safety before the trigger can be engaged. This safety feature is great, in case you accidentally brush the trigger with your finger (or another object) you can trust that it won’t discharge without the safety being engaged.

I love how the trigger squeeze is light (5.5lbs), but not too light as to where you can fire when you do not intend to. I didn’t experience any snags while slowly squeezing the trigger, allowing for a surprisingly smooth trigger squeeze all the way until the weapon fired. This is a very important feature, because in order to accurately engage your target, your trigger squeeze must not cause the weapon itself to move. This can cause your round to miss the intended area you’re aiming at (or miss the target altogether).

Another great feature I love about the Gen 4, is the trigger reset. Just by feeling it, I can tell you it resets at about the halfway point after you’ve fired a round. This allows you to fire in a rapid succession without having to fully release the trigger before firing another round. The less time you spend squeezing the trigger, the less time it takes to send more accurate rounds down range.

Recoil

Any handgun in the 9x19mm caliber will have a relatively light recoil. The Gen 4 is no different, but the great balancing of the weapon greatly reduced the recoil I felt while shooting it. While firing in a rapid succession, I felt very comfortable with the recoil and was able to reacquire the target quickly after each round that I fired (as you can see in the video). Each grain for the 9x19mm will have a different recoil feel than others. However, with the 115 grain FMJ I could barely feel the recoil.

With my arms extended and using a thumbs-forward grip, I was able to absorb most of the recoil in my forearms, making the recoil feel almost non-existent. This is a feature I look for diligently when I look for a new handgun. I love the way the recoil is directed mostly upward (and slightly to the right due to the right twist of the rifling in the barrel), as this allows an easier target acquisition after I fire each round.

Three Magazine Variable Distance Drill

In this video, I conduct a drill using three magazines with five rounds each at a distance of 7, 10, and 15 meters with the Glock 19 Gen 4. With the first magazine, I fired in a rapid succession into the target’s midsection, with a grouping of less than 5”. I was then informed not to fire more than one round per second (at that range), so with my second magazine I fired five rounds into the target’s head, with a grouping of less than 3” (other than the one round that hit the target’s mouth). With the third and final magazine, I fired five rounds back into the target’s midsection, with a grouping of less than 6”.

This drill was conducted after 550 rounds were fired through it in less than 45 minutes. As you can see, the Gen 4 showed no issues and fired flawlessly throughout the drill. I’m no world-class shooter, but you can see how easy it was for me to place 15 well-placed rounds downrange at the fastest pace allowed at that range.

Overall Performance

I was very impressed with the Gen 4 during my first time using it, and I still am to this day. At first, I had difficulty acquiring my sight picture with the stock sights. However, Glock sights can be replaced with aftermarket sights allowing the user to aim down the sights easier. I personally love the Truglo TFO sights, as they adjust to all types of low-light situations without being seen on the receiving end.

I conducted a few mag-change drills, and found that the Gen 4 is very easy to reload. The magazine seats very well into the receiver, and is released easily as well. The magazine release can be switched to the right side of the frame for left-handed shooters, however I recommend leaving it on the left side in case you become injured and an ally needs to use it (most shooters are either ambidextrous, or right-handed).

When I conducted my initial 550-round test, I used sub-par Remington 9mm 115gr and it handled the abuse very well. I was surprised when I had no malfunctions, and I can now say that I could depend on this weapon regardless of the brand of ammunition (though, I would treat my weapon to better quality ammunition).

glock 19 gen 4 loaded chamber indicator

Another great feature I love about Glocks, is their loaded chamber indicator. This is a small feature located directly behind the opening of the slide. By sliding your finger over it, you will be able to tell if a round is chambered if the button is sticking out. This enables you to ensure a round is chambered when you carry without having to pull the slide to the rear.

I love the comfortability of the Gen 4. The integrated finger grooves fit my hand perfectly, allowing me to shoot comfortably during a speed-shooting drill. I’m confident that the Gen 4 will operate well in real life situations should they present themselves. I didn’t like the time it took to adjust to their sights (however, this is common with any unfamiliar handgun). I also didn’t like the fact that their backstrap didn’t stay attached very well.

Wrap-Up

After a detailed review of the Glock 19 Gen 4, I would definitely recommend it to any future owner. The overall comfortability, along with its durability, dependability, and customizability make it a fantastic EDC or home defense handgun. For self-defense ammunition, I prefer using 147gr JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point) 9mm. Jacketed hollow points are incredibly lethal, and effective for most real-world engagement distances.

While the Gen 4 is not easily concealed under a t-shirt, it’s still possible (especially under a sweatshirt or jacket). I wouldn’t recommend buying the Glock 19 Gen 4 for the sole purpose of a concealed carry handgun, but I would highly recommend it for home defense, vehicle carry, or open carry. The Gen 4 fits great into holsters (that are made for it), especially the retention holster I mentioned above.

Overall, the Glock 19 Gen 4 is a very impressive striker-fired handgun. I was greatly impressed with how it handled, as well as how it shot over prolonged firing without copious amounts of lubrication. It’s very easy to break down to clean, because it breaks down into four easy to clean parts (slide, frame, recoil spring assembly, and barrel) unless you wish to break it down further. However, you really only need to concentrate on those four major components when conducting routine cleaning.

I would recommend the Glock 19 Gen 4 to any prepper, because it’s exceeded every expectation that I have for handguns. While there are some flaws that I found (and pointed out in this article), it’s nearly impossible to find any weapon that doesn’t have its own flaws. Average cost: $525 before taxes.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Grey Water

Recycling water is just as possible as recycling plastic bottles. You might not realize that some of the water you use on a regular basis is considered grey water. There are ways you can safely reuse grey water, especially in a survival scenario or once an SHTF situation calms down.

You might not even be in an SHTF scenario to want to consider using grey water. Our climate is continually changing. California faced a major drought not too long ago, and it was crucial for citizens to be conservative with their water. We have no idea where or when the next drought might hit.

Water is essential for life. Without a doubt, it is the most fundamental and valuable natural resource available to all living things, humans included. However, fresh water isn’t an infinite resource. For example, a huge portion of the Earth is covered in salt water, which is unsafe for us to consume for hydration. Only a portion of the water throughout the world is potable. In fact, only 2% of the water supply is fresh water!

What is Grey Water?

Before we get too far, it is essential that you understand what qualifies as grey water. Grey water refers to wasted fresh water that comes out of the drains. It is the water that goes down your sink after you wash your hands or take a bath. It is the water that drains out after you wash your clothes.

You must differentiate grey water and black water. Black water is what you flush down the toilet each day. It doesn’t qualify as grey water and is not safe for you to recycle. Blackwater requires major treatment and a sanitization process, typically done at large facilities. Blackwater is water that is contaminated by feces and other bodily wastes.

We must remember that not all grey water is equal. You have to consider what is in the grey water to decide how it can or cannot be reused. For example, dishwasher will contain organic matter, chemicals, and, potentially, pathogens. On the other hand, washing your hands doesn’t introduce as many pathogens. Grey water with potential pathogens should not be used for irrigation purposes.

Collecting Grey Water

In most homes, the plumbing system is not able to tell the difference between black and grey water. It is all mixed as it leaves the house for our septic or sewer systems. The biggest problem when you want to use grey water is figuring out how to collect it effectively.

An ideal situation would be to create an empty tank to collect grey water. However, that would require you to change the plumbing in your home drastically, and it could be against the codes. There are things you can do yourself or with someone who has some plumbing knowledge.

The most common choice is to follow the water pipes that drain with a gravity feed. These are the pipes that come from your kitchen and bathroom sink, bathtub and washing machine. You want to follow the pipes down to an exterior wall. With some help and elbow grease, you can attach an additional pipe that leads to your garden or a holding tank.

There are also lots of simple tips for grey water collection. Remember, using grey water is supposed to save you money, so don’t think you need an expensive setup. Here are some easy tips!

  • Put a bucket in the shower to easily collect warm-up water.
  • If you have any unused drinking water, store it! Don’t dump half-full bottles of water. You can put them in your fridge, use to water plants or store in a filtering pitcher.
  • Wash your dishes in a dishpan instead of in your sink.
  • If you wash your fruits and veggies, do so in a bowl of water rather than under running water.
  • Save water from dehumidifiers.
  • Scoop out bath water with a bucket.
  • Use a bucket to capture the rinse water from washing machines.

The Important “DOS” of Grey Water

  • Do check your local rules and regulations for grey water Believe it or not, some locations prohibit some or all collection of grey water. For example, many areas do not allow you to collect grey water from the kitchen sink.
  • Do limit your contact with grey water, especially with your bare hands. You might introduce a bacteria that was not very otherwise.
  • Do understand what each type of grey water can be used for and what it may contain.
    • Laundry water may contain soaps or fecal matter from clothing. However, this grey water is suitable for irrigation purposes.
    • Kitchen water contains dish soap, traces of pesticides and food scraps. You should not use kitchen sink grey water for irrigation, but you could use it to flush toilets.
    • Bath water might contain soap and shampoo, as well as fecal matter and urine. You can use it for irrigation purposes.
    • Hand sink water contains soap, toothpaste, and residues from cleaning products. Using it for irrigation purposes is possible.
  • Do try to use a recycling system based on water flow rather than a pooling Pooling water increases the chances that bacteria could grow inside. While there are no reported deaths or illnesses caused by grey water, we must be careful to keep our family healthy. An example of pooling water would be a bucket of water sitting on your countertop with dishwater. A system based on water flow would have a pipe flowing into the container for new water, as well as a pipe leading to either a tap or an irrigation system. The water is moving in and out with regularity.
  • Do use natural, biodegradable soaps, shampoos, detergents and other products. Doing so increases the quality of your grey water.
  • Do catch warm-up water, meaning the water that goes down the drain as you wait for the water to reach the temperature you desire. You might be surprised how much water you waste in your shower and sink. Warm-up water is clean and presents virtually no health hazards!
  • Do find ways to use grey water every You can use it to flush the toilet, water houseplants, along with outdoor plants!
  • Do rotate the area you water, either with a grey water hose or irrigation, to reduce the possibility of toxin build-ups.
  • Do make sure that you monitor your soil regularly to ensure the grey water is not causing an issue. You should check the pH level, smell, and signs of life such as earthworms.
  • Do use a watering system that distributes the water below the soil surface. While it does involve more upfront work for you, creating a grey water irrigation system comes with the natural benefit of the soil filtering out toxins.
  • Do use a nylon stocking or a sock at the end of the hose to filter out any lint and hair.
  • Do remember that a filter is necessary if you install a drip irrigation system. You will want to install a fine mesh filter on the pipe that connects the grey water collection system. Filtration is necessary to stop lint and other particles from entering.

Crucial “DON’TS” of Grey Water

  • Don’t drink grey water. It should not be used for human consumption!
  • Don’t allow your children or pets to play in the grey
  • Don’t use on edible plants such as your vegetable garden or fruit trees. While some people may do so, it could potentially introduce contamination. If you want to use it on edible plants, you need first to divert the water through a filtration system. The purpose is to remove all waste matter before using it on food crops.
  • Don’t store grey water for long periods of time. It is ideal to reuse before a 24-hour window to reduce the buildup of pathogens and bacteria.
  • Don’t use bleaches and disinfectants that will flow into your grey water collection system.
  • Don’t think you need a complicated system with pumps and expensive filters to collect your grey water. Try the tips listed above. There is no reason that you need a degree to make this happen.
  • Don’t collect grey water if your ground freezes several inches deep during cold winters. It is best to avoid collecting and irrigating during the cooler temperatures. It is best to divert the grey water to your septic tank or sewer system during the winter.
  • Don’t try to store winter grey water for the springtime uses! You can create a colony of pathogens.
  • Don’t collect grey water if someone in your home has an infectious disease. You need to avoid that grey water until your family member is healthy. Why should we take this step? We don’t want to re-introduce bacteria or viruses to our family and risk our health.
  • Don’t use grey water in the same area as food or water sources of your livestock. It may seem like a wise idea, but remember we need to reduce any contaminations.
  • Don’t use grey water on acid-loving plants. Plants to avoid, aside from edible ones, are azaleas, begonias, gardenias, hibiscus, camellias, and ferns.

Whether you are trying to save money or need to preserve water for a drought, it is important for you to understand the dos and don’ts of grey water. Grey water collection can be easy or complicated, depending on the system you pick. Most importantly, you must remember that grey water is not for human consumption and to avoid storing the water for longer than 24 hours. Stick to the tips!

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Body Armor for Preppers: Yay or Nay?

You’re sitting at home, then all the sudden you see a news broadcast saying the economy has collapsed. You’re shocked, not quite sure what exactly is about to take place. Then, you change the channel and see mass panic in cities. There’s riots in the streets, people looting to get supplies, stealing electronics, absolute chaos.

This is it, this is what you’ve been prepping for. You’re nervous, but excited to see all of your hard work finally put to good use. You call your family and tell them to meet you at the house.

You start getting your gear ready, bringing it out to your car. All of your BOBs, INCH bags, and medical bags, all piled into your BOV. Your family arrives, and once you finish gathering all of their necessities, you head out to your BOL. You can see your beautiful BOL as you pull up, and you tell your family to wait in the vehicle as you stop. You get out, walk cautiously up to your BOL as you get ready to clear it, then you hear a loud bang. You’ve been shot in the chest by a looter who’s already claimed your BOL as his own.

Now, you must watch your family scream and cry from the vehicle as they try to run to help you. What happens to them is now at the mercy of the looter that’s set his defense up in your BOL. All of this could have been avoided if you had saved money and invested in body armor, instead of that $5 coffee you get on your way to work every day. There’s a saying when it comes to body armor in the Infantry, “it’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it”.

Body Armor Myths

There are many myths that revolve around body armor that you should know about, because believing them could end up getting you killed. When it’s your job to get shot at, you pick up on some tips and tricks about body armor.

Myth One: Homemade Body Armor is Just as Effective as Store-Bought

First off, if you believe this, you need a slap in the face. Purchased body armor is factory-pressed and made to be lightweight and effective. If you make body armor yourself, you’re placing your life (or the life of loved ones) in your hands. This may sound appealing, but if you mess up one single step, your body armor will be rendered ineffective. Just like how you wouldn’t go through the trouble of making your own beer (most of the time) to taste like Budweiser, you leave it to the experts to do their jobs.

Myth Two: Kevlar Vests are Just as Effective as SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert) Plates

This is a common myth in the prepping community, but a myth nonetheless. The most protection you can get from soft body armor is with the III-A rating. This rating only grants protection for up to a .44 magnum semi-jacketed hollow point at 1,400 fps. Most rifles would penetrate soft armor if used alone.

This is a major downfall for preppers, as most of your threats would be carrying rifles post-collapse. On the other side of the spectrum, SAPI plates can grant protection of up to 7.62 x 39mm M61 AP (Armor Penetrating) at 2,780 fps. If SHTF, what body armor would you grab if left side by side?

Myth Three: You Can Conceal Kevlar Vests Under Your Clothing

When I read this on a prepper forum, I literally laughed out loud. Most effective Kevlar vests stick out like a sore thumb underneath clothing. Think of it this way, police officers wear Kevlar vests underneath their uniforms (most of the time). Anyone who looks at a cop can easily see their body armor underneath their shirts. If shit’s going south enough for you to have to grab body armor, why bother trying to conceal it anyway?

The entire reason I agreed to write this article is to save your lives. There are way too many rumors and myths regarding body armor online, and without a proper source to tell you otherwise, you’re not at fault for believing them. Now, let’s get into the fun stuff.

Plate Carrier

Plate Carriers

While it is possible to just tape SAPI plates to your body, it’s extremely impractical. Therefore, plate carriers are important, so you can strap your SAPI plates to your body. There are hundreds of plate carriers on the market. Like anything, some brands are better than others. Don’t make the mistake of buying an airsoft plate carrier for your real-life prepping. Airsoft plate carriers aren’t designed to carry SAPI plates, and have a higher chance of tearing after rugged use.

One brand that I’ve grown to love over my years of experience is a brand called “ATS Tactical”. I bought a plate carrier from them in 2014, and have had it ever since. It’s gone through multiple training cycles, as well as real-life tests. Not once have I had to replace it, and it still sustains rugged use to this day. ATS is my absolute favorite, and most recommended brand for plate carriers, as well as any other items you could use for prepping (pouches, belts, vests, etc.).

The ATS Aegis Plate Carrier V2 is the newest model of plate carrier from ATS, and is the one I wear and love.  They come in five sizes (small, medium, large, 10×12, and XL), making them available for preppers of all shapes and sizes. They feature MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) compatibility on the front, back, and sides of the plate carrier making them a great foundation to add more pouches and equipment directly onto the carrier itself.

Another great feature of the Aegis V2 is their side SAPI plate compatibility. They can fit side SAPI plates up to a 6×6 size in their side compartment offering added protection for its wearer. On top of all these features, they offer a thin closed-cell foam pad between your body and the plate carrier. This offers added comfortability, as well as mobility for its wearers. All ATS products offer a lifetime warranty against defects in manufacturing and workmanship, so if your plate carrier tears, they’ll fix it for free. Average price: $230.

Velocity soft armor plate backers

SAPI Plates

SAPI plates offer the best protection for their class of body armor. While there are other types of body armor that offer more protection, SAPI plates are unbeatable for their protection in a lightweight, agile design. Most SAPI plates are made of either boron carbide, or silicon carbide ceramic as their base. This allows more protection for their user, while remaining lightweight compared to their steel-plate counterparts.

SAPI plates are designed to crack upon impact, thus dispersing the shock throughout the plate itself. This impact dispersion enables the user to continue fighting without feeling the incredible impact of a round striking them. While some people may believe this renders them useless after the first round impacts them, that’s far from the truth. In the military, do you think we’re going to be able to turn them in for new ones right away after we take a round to the plate? No, we continue fighting and trade them in for new ones when we get back to a FOB (forward operating base).

If you’re going to use SAPI plates, I highly recommend using them in conjunction with soft armor between the plates, and your chest. This allows added protection in case the plate shatters due to an AP (Armor Penetration) round striking it. Also, you can get Kevlar cut to size for your ATS plate carrier by placing an order here ($280 for front and back). I wouldn’t risk my life relying on just one form of bulletproof material in a SHTF scenario, and neither should you.

tactical helmet light

Helmets

If you’re preparing for a gunfight, you don’t think the enemy is going to aim just for your chest, do you? There are many reasons why you should consider protection for your head, not just for bullets. If you’re walking through the wilderness after you bug out, the odds of you encountering another prepper (or looter) are decently high. The odds of that person having some type of explosive are also high enough to cause concern for shrapnel.

Any type of sharp (or blunt) object flying at your head at a high rate of speed has the chance to kill or seriously injure you. Thus, having a ballistic helmet is a great investment as a prepper. The best style of helmet for preppers is a mid-cut ballistic helmet. This way you have a great area of protection, as well as optimizing weight-reduction and maneuverability. Most mid-cut helmets come with ARCs (Accessory Rail Connectors) that offer added attachment capabilities.

For mid-cut helmets, I recommend the Ops-Core Sentry Mid Cut Helmet. Ops-Core is a brand trusted by many avid preppers, as well as some law enforcement agencies and militias. Although they’re a bit pricey (averaging $1,050 per helmet), their protection and comfortability are unmatched in their market. They offer a level III-A protection against up to .44 magnum at 1,400 fps, making it a great level of protection for small arms engagements. An added bonus, they look identical to helmets used by SOF (Special Operations Forces).

For helmet attachments, I recommend the Surefire HL1-A-TN Tactical Helmet Light. I’ve used this light personally and have nothing but good things to say about it. Despite this, there are some mixed reviews about it on Amazon. When used properly, I don’t see why you should have an issue with any Surefire tac-light as they are built to withstand rugged use. The HL1 offers a white LED (with multiple light brightness settings), blue LED (with multiple light brightness settings) and a blinking red infrared light (only visible with night vision optics aka NODs). Average price: $120.

flame resistant gloves

Flame-Resistant Gloves

When it comes to shooting a weapon (especially a rifle), gloves are a necessity. The reason you’ll want flame-resistant gloves, however, is because your barrel can become incredibly hot during an engagement. You don’t want to be that guy that burns your hand because you were too stubborn to wear gloves (I was that guy), it hurts.

Gloves don’t have to be uncomfortable, or too pricey for a prepperMechanix M-Pact Covert Tactical Gloves cost an average of $35 for a pair, and are incredibly durable. For two years as an Infantryman, I was an M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) gunner. The M249 is a great machine gun, but takes a terrible toll on gloves. Once I got a pair of Mechanix gloves, I haven’t had to replace them since. Because of this, Mechanix gloves definitely get my stamp of approval.

While Mechanix gloves aren’t the only reliable tactical gloves on the market, they’re definitely the most affordable for their durability. Oakley Men’s Factory Pilot Gloves offer a great amount of protection, while incorporating a hard shell on the wearer’s knuckles compared to the Mechanix’s gel knuckle protection. These gloves cost on average $55-$75 for a pair, making them still affordable (however, not my first choice).

Unnecessary Body Armor

While body armor is a legitimate necessity for preppers, there are some items that you shouldn’t waste your money on. You don’t need a full juggernaut suit to cover your vital organs. If you do, you’ll look ridiculous and you’ll weight yourself down. Any added weight over a long-distance movement can seem back-breaking, so stick to the essentials. The following list consists of items that aren’t necessary for your survival needs.

  • Knee, and elbow pads (unless you require them for bad joints)
  • DAPS (Deltoid and Axillary Protector System)
  • Groin Kevlar
  • Neck Kevlar
  • Expensive Ear-pro (ear protection) and Eye-pro (eye protection)

Decking yourself out in the most body armor possible is a waste of money, and energy. Some people like to buy these items to look cool, but end up being laughed at by us professionals. They’re not necessary, and will end up costing you a lot of money that you could have used for other prepping essentials. Regular body armor alone will cost you enough money, don’t spend it on items you don’t need.

Special Considerations

While there are basics when it comes to body armor, there are also supplementary items that you can acquire that will make your kit (body armor) more efficient. Items like these are not essential. However, they can be a great help and luxury when you must wear your kit for long periods of time.

mag puch

Magazine Pouches

The standard combat load for a United States Infantryman’s M4 (5.56mm) is 210 rounds (seven 30-round magazines). This amount of ammunition is enough to sustain someone for a mid to long-term engagement, and I recommend it for preppers. If you train your body to carry your body armor, plus 210 rounds of whatever ammunition your rifle requires, you’ll hardly notice it when you have your kit on. Magazine pouches that have MOLLE capability allow you to attach them directly to your ATS plate carrier, or whatever rig you decide to attach them to.

This allows you quick access to your magazines when you need to reload during an engagement if necessary. I recommend the ATS 6×3 Shingle magazine pouch system, for two big reasons. The first reason, is that it’s made by ATS. They’re such a reliable manufacturer for warfighters and preppers alike, and I’ve had nothing but great experiences with them. The second reason, is their magazine capacity.

The 6×3 Shingle holds six 5.56mm magazines (you can also get the 7.62mm version), as well as three double-stack pistol magazines. This capacity allows you to localize all of your ammunition in one area, making it a great option for preppers looking for simplicity. Tip – keep loaded magazines face-down in your magazine pouch, and empty magazines face-up. This way, you can distinguish without looking what magazines are available for you to grab so you can reload your weapon.

ats war belt

War Belts

These glorious inventions make carrying supplemental pouches a hell of a lot easier for guys like me, and I’m sure you’ll love them too. They’re simply a belt with MOLLE loops built all the way around them, making them capable of attaching any MOLLE pouch to them. This enables you to keep your kit pouch-free, and enables you to toss your belt with all your equipment on it to someone in case of an emergency. Most war belts come with suspenders as well, making them much easier to keep secured on your waist.

Once again, ATS wins my vote for the war belt. The ATS War Belt is extremely durable (I’ve proven this with rigorous use), and reliable. I’ve put ATS’s lifetime warranty to the test when I accidentally tore my war belt while getting off a Blackhawk. I sent it into ATS, and they sent me a brand-new belt that hasn’t had any issues since. The only downside to this belt, is you’ll need to buy an inner belt (which you can also purchase off their website) in order to secure it around your waist. I recommend getting an inner belt with a buckle for quick-release, however it’s not necessary.

utility pouch

Utility and Dump Pouches

These pouches are designed with simplicity in mind. While they’re not necessary for survival, they can be of great use if you plan on wearing your kit for long periods of time. Utility pouches (AKA sustainment pouches) are pouches that you can attach to your kit to carry small, necessary items (like maps, markers, etc.). Another great use for utility pouches is to keep an energy bar inside of it, trust me it comes in handy.

ATS offers a great selection of affordable utility pouches, but my favorite is the ATS Small Utility Pouch. I know I mention ATS a lot in my articles, but it’s for a good reason. They’re the only brand that I’ve heard of that make such great quality gear and offer a lifetime warranty (even if you’re not the original buyer) on their items. If you like another brand, that’s fine. Just don’t get “Condor”, they make terrible, unreliable gear.

Dump pouches are pouches that you can attach to your kit, or war belt in order to store your expended magazines in. While you can just place your expended magazines back in your magazine pouch, dump pouches offer a faster way of doing this so you can get back in the fight faster. Magazines may be hard to come by post-collapse, so conserving them is of utmost importance so that you can reload them later. You can find ATS dump pouches here.

MINI IFAK

IFAK (Improvised First Aid Kit)

If you buy any pouch for your kit, make sure the IFAK is the first one you buy. When SHTF and you end up getting shot (or injured by some other means), you don’t want to be wasting precious time by digging in your BOB looking for medical supplies. An IFAK enables you to carry essential items that could save your life (sold separately) while keeping them within reach at all times. If you want to look at the one I personally use (which is obviously ATS), click here.

ESS BALLISTIC EYE PRO

Ear-Pro and Eye-Pro

You definitely don’t need to spend an arm and a leg when it comes to protecting your ears from loud noises, and eyes from debris and shrapnel. The best eye-pro I’ve ever had was a pair of ESS Crossbow ballistic eye-pro. A sturdy carrying-case, two frames, and two lenses (tinted for daytime and clear for nighttime) come with the package for $105 off of their website, but can be sold for less at most army surplus stores (if you can find them).

For ear-pro, any basic ear plugs will work. However, I recommend getting a pair with a string keeping them together, along with a carrying case to keep them clean when you’re not using them. You can find a pair like this for less than $5 at Walmart, and they should last you a long time. Although, I recommend getting at least three or four pairs of ear-pro per person. Sometimes, ear-pro can get lost or damaged while in a firefight or a long movement.

Wrap-Up

Body armor is a vital necessity for preppers, that fact is not up for debate. Whatever brands you decide to buy, however, is up to you. For those of you who are new to my articles, I stress a lot on the fact that whatever you buy is on you. I’m only here to help guide you in the right direction if you have little experience in my area of expertise. With this being said, please don’t try to go make your own body armor. If you take a round to homemade body armor, you’re probably going to die wondering why you didn’t leave the body armor making up to the professionals.

Shooting with body armor on can be difficult at first. However, with practice (and lots of it) you’ll start to get used to it, and eventually it will become second-nature to you. Remember, the added weight from body armor can be a nuisance when moving long distances. Make sure you practice hiking long distances with this added weight, so you’re not sucking when you have to do it when SHTF.

Never underestimate how helpful extra pouches can be for your kit. While you don’t want to be carrying everything you can think of on your kit, the added availability of some items will prove to be useful in bad situations. Even if you decide to get the bare minimum for body armor, make sure you at least get a plate carrier with SAPI plates and soft armor, and some ear and eye-pro. With these basic items, you’ll stand a chance against another trained enemy. You know what they say, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun”.

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7 Ways to Keep Your Soil Fertile

The fertility of your land doesn’t remain constant, especially if you deplete the soil by growing vegetables and fruit. Just like anything else, your land must be nourished and properly cared for to continue growing food to supply your family.

Keeping your land fertile first requires that you used that makes a good soil. Organic gardening and farming require at least a basic understanding of the complex nature of the soil. There is so much hidden inside of simple dirt. Of course, you can also pump non-organic fillers and vitamins into your soil to give it boosts. However, that is not a sustainable method.

When we are thinking about surviving for years to come, we have to remember that stores may not be available for us to purchase fertilizers. Luckily, organic methods have worked for centuries to keep the land fertile. The soil is truly a complex system of food that lives inside of your garden beds. Soil is alive. There are earthworms, bacteria, fungi, mites, and microscopic organisms. These organisms release vital mineral nutrients into the soil.

There are many ways to keep your land fertile throughout the years. Most of these methods can and should be used together for maximum results.

7 Ways to Keep Your Land Fertile

Use Your Compost

Every gardener and survivalist should have a working compost. The process is easy. You need an area where you can keep brown and green materials as they break down into compost. Most things can be placed into your compost, except dairy products, cat and dog feces, and meat products. If you garden and have a yard, you will have items to compost. Some ideas are:

  • Eggshells
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Twigs and branches
  • Dead Weeds
  • Herb clippings
  • Grass clippings
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Dried leaves
  • Coffee grounds and tea leaves

Chances are you have a plethora of things to compost. Why does composting benefit the fertility of your land? As these items break down into compost, you create a nutrient-dense soil that will benefit your plants. Compost helps to increase the soil structure by adding inorganic particles with decayed, organic particles. Proper soil structure allows air to circulate and water to move freely.

Use Mulch

If you have a vegetable garden, using organic mulch is vital for its health. I don’t mean that you need to go out and buy bags of wood chips from the store. Remember that is not a sustainable practice. There are plenty of choices.

Organic mulches offer your soil benefits that other choices do not. While they all stop the growth and germinate of weeds, mulch will help to retain the moisture of your soil for longer, which helps during dry spells. Water is essential for fertility and proper growth. Mulch also helps to regulate soil temperature. During hot days, the soil stays cooler; during cooler days, the soil is warmer.

Another benefit is that organic mulch is it will add nutrients to your soil. This benefit is different than if you pick wood chips. Organic mulch will break down over time, allowing nutrients to seep into the soil. You can pick different mulches for each garden bed, depending on the plants there and nutrients required.

What types of organic mulches can you use? A few of my favorite choices are:

  • Grass clippings: A typically free source of nitrogen that decomposes easily.
  • Straw: Offers similar benefits as grass clippings, but it decomposes at a much slower rate.
  • Shredded Leaves: Another free source available to most gardeners that helps to loosen soil and add nutrients.
  • Newspapers: If the company uses organic dyes, the newspaper can help to block out weeds while eventually breaking down completely.

Crop Rotation

One of the oldest practices is crop rotation. Ancient Egyptians began this practice thousands of years ago when they would switch fields each year and plant different crops. It is a practice that we can and should still use today.

Typically, crop rotation is when you have a deep-rooted rap planted in one garden bed or area that year. Then, the next year you would plant a shallow rooted crop instead. Modern farming typically involves a three-field crop rotation.

The reason why crop rotation increases land fertility is that growing the same crop in the same soil every year depletes the soil nutrients. Every plant has their unique nutrient requirement. Plants also leave different nutrients in the soil. Rotating the plants each year helps to replace vital nutrients back into the soil. There are other benefits as well!

  • Slows down the spread of pests and diseases
  • Reduces the need for artificial fertilizers
  • Allows you to grow more food and harvest at different times.
  • Improves the nutrients in soil through green manure
  • Reduces weeds
  • Improves the soil structure
  • Reduces soil erosion

Planting a Cover Crop

Never heard of a cover crop? That’s okay; I didn’t for years! It is one of the least used methods by home gardeners, but the benefits shouldn’t be discounted. Let’s take a look at what cover crops and why you should use them.

A cover crop is any plant that you grow specifically to improve your soil. The practice started in the early 1900s to restore the fertility of the land. You have a variety of choices available. Here are some of the favorites!

  • Legumes: You can grow legumes as food or as a cover crop. The soil gets the most benefits if you don’t harvest the crop. Legumes planted in the fall help to decrease winter soil erosion.
  • Alfalfa: Alfalfa is a perennial plant that is best if sown in the spring or summer. It has aggressive secondary roots.
  • Clovers: There are several choices in the clover cover crop category such as Berseem Clover, Crimson Clover, Red Clover and Dutch White Clover. You will find annuals and perennials! Some are a winter-hardy choice that grows to three feet tall. Other choices are biennials that grow from spring through fall. You have to find the choice that fits your needs.
  • Peas: Here is another edible legume that tends to be cold-hardy. You want a field pea that will grow rapidly in the spring. You plant them in the fall or very early spring.

Cover crops, when used properly, offer a wealth of benefits of gardeners. It will increase the organic matter in your soil, prevent soil erosion, stop the growth of weeds and cycle soil-borne nutrients. There are two other benefits that you should know as well.

  • Rhizodeposition is a special benefit of cover crops. It means that the plant release sugars and other vital substances into the roots of your soil. Some cover crops can go as far as six feet into the ground! Most gardeners never dig that deep! The roots of the cover crops host sugars that encourage the growth of helpful microorganisms.
  • Bio-Drilling is a term that means the cover crops can dig, or “drill,” deep into the compacted Some plants can dig into the tight soil, creating a map or system for the next plant you pick to grow there!

No-Till Farming Method

Something newer on the scene is learning how to farm and garden without the use of tilling. No-till does preserve the topsoil and reduces soil erosion.

Many gardeners till the earth up to a foot deep with a plow or a motorized tiller. Typically, you plant your seedlings in the leftovers of the previous plants, weeds and other things in the soil. Tilling is done because gardeners believe that it loosens up the soil, allowing oxygen and water to flow easily to the roots. However, by turning the soil, farmers are moving the organic-matter to the stop of the soil and also creates soil that will become denser with rain and watering.

One of the negatives of tilling is that it creates soil erosion. Tilling disrupts and breaks up the structure of the soil, allowing soil and particles to blow away or get washed away during heavy rains. At the same time, the essential organic matter in your soil is damaged, including beetles earthworms, bacteria, and fungi. You need those for healthy plants!

On the other hand, no-till agriculture allows gardeners to plant their crops and control pesky weeds without the need for turning the soil. Instead of using disks or a plow, gardeners can use a narrow furrow that allows seeds to be injected into the soil. At the same time, fertilizers are added. The pros of no-tilling include:

  • Conserving water
  • Reducing erosion
  • Less labor to grow crops
  • Fewer fossil fuels used

Of course, one of the negatives includes more weeds. However, there are organic ways to get rid of weeds. If you want to continue to create fertile land, put away that tiller!

Make Soil Amendments

There are times when your soil needs amendments. Amendments are anything that you add to the soil to help its properties and how it holds water. There are several types of soils such as clay, sandy and silt.

If you have clay soil, some amendment choices are:

  • Peat Moss: aerates the soil
  • Lime: Increase the pH and loosens soil
  • Sand: Improves drainage

If you have sandy soil, some amendment choices are:

  • Clay Soil: Improves water retention
  • Compost: Acts as a conditioner
  • Peat Moss: Helps retain water

If you have silt soil, amendment choices are:

  • Course Sand: Improves drainage
  • Manure: Acts as a conditioner

Soil structure is essential for fertility and plant growth. If you find that your soil isn’t what you hoped, it is easy to make amendments to improve drainage, water retention and more. In the long run, amendments increase the growth of your land and plants.

Using Natural Fertilizers as Needed

Sometimes, you might find that your soil still needs some fertilizers. There are plenty of natural (and free) fertilizers you can select. There is no reason to use anything purchased from the store for your garden fertility. Many items you have in your house right now can be used to increase the fertility of the land.

Here are some of my favorites to add to my garden:

  • Banana Peels: If your soil needs a potassium boost, banana peels are the perfect addition. You can add some peels in the hole before planting. You can also create a liquid banana fertilizer by soaking the peels in water for a few days and spraying your plants.
  • Coffee Grounds: Does your soil need a boost of acid? Some plants, like tomatoes and roses, love acid. All you need to do is add some on the soil around your plant. Water will help the nutrient soak into the soil.
  • Eggshells: There is no better way to add calcium to your garden than with eggshells. Dry them out and add them into the holes before planting tomatoes and zucchini. Calcium helps to prevent blossom end rot. I suggest eggshells in your homemade potting soil mix!
  • Grass Clippings: Grass is rich in nitrogen and breaks down easily over time. You can fill a bucket with grass clippings and water, allowing it to soak for a few days. Then, spray your plants with the mixture! You can also apply grass clippings around the base of your plants as a mulch.
  • Manure: Everyone knows that manure is good for your soil. If you own chickens, horses, cows, or rabbits, you are in luck. It is best to always compost and age the manure first. You should never use fresh manure around your plants. It is extremely high in nitrogen and ammonia, which can burn your plants. Once composted or left to rot for six months, you can add manure directly to the soil. Manure can also be mixed with compost to improve soil texture and add more nutrients.

Keeping and improving the fertility of your land offers benefits for years. If you want your children to be able to grow successfully on your land, all you need to do is make some different choices. Land fertility doesn’t require specialty bought products or spending thousands of dollars. Remember to rotate your crops, avoid tilling and apply compost and other natural fertilizers. Your land will thank you!

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How to Clear a Room Tactically

Imagine you’ve spent hours (or even days) traveling to your bug out location after SHTF, and you find that your BOL has already been occupied by looters. Without knowing how to clear a room properly, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a deadly situation. It also gives you and your team a huge advantage after SHTF, because even if your BOL is no longer usable, you can still occupy and hold a new area.

In this article, I’ll be teaching you the different aspects of tactical room clearing. There are many factors that revolve around room clearing, but the one’s I’ll teach you about are the most common situations you’ll find yourself in. If you practice what you learn in this article, you’ll be much more confident if you find yourself in a situation where you might need to use it. Remember, practice makes permanent and not perfect. When you practice, make sure you’re practicing it right.

Disclaimer: Everything in this article is public information. I will NOT disclose sensitive information regarding any aspect of the United States Armed Forces. However, there is plenty of public knowledge available to successfully learn how to tactically clear a room.

Speed and Violence

Two major factors come into play that involve room clearing, and whatever side uses them more, usually ends up being the victor. The first factor is speed, a dire necessity to clear a room successfully. You can’t expect to crawl through a doorway and not expect to get mowed down by gunfire if there’s a threat inside of the room. The second factor is violence, a key factor when it comes to firefights. Usually the side that shows more willingness to use violence will be the victor when the SHTF.

While speed is a major factor in room clearing, you need to understand what “speed” truly means when it comes to room clearing. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. What that means, is instead of trying to rush through a room guns blazing, you should slow it down and tactically clear your sectors. This ensures that you’ll make less mistakes, and in turn, you’ll move faster. This doesn’t mean slow your movement down to a crawl, just move more methodically and tactically.

Another important aspect of using speed and violence, is “owning the room”. If you present your willingness to pursue violence by any means necessary, and act on it, you’ve already won half of the battle. Every room you enter is YOUR room, act like it. When you clear any room, you should be thinking that any enemy in that room is trespassing, and it’s your job to get them out by any means necessary.

Owning the Room

In order for you to win the intricate battle of room clearing, you need to own the room. If you don’t, your enemy will, and they will more than likely win. Be confident every time you commit yourself (and your team) to clearing a room. Every corner you clear, you need to own. That means every angle you take should be a crisp, sharp, and dominant movement.

Don’t be a robot, though. In the movie “Act of Valor”, the U.S. Navy SEALS portrayed in that movie are played by real U.S. Navy SEALS. Even as actors, the techniques for room clearing they reenact are real techniques, because they are engrained into their heads. If you want an accurate depiction on how you should dominate your room, watch how they do it.

Owning the room also means owning every threat that presents itself in that room. You could dominate every corner and sector in any room, but if you don’t dominate your treat, it will dominate you. Never be complacent in a room, you should treat every room you clear as if it’s filled with enemies waiting to kill you or your team. Your foot movement can also mean the difference between dominating your room, and tripping up in the process.

Foot Movement

How you move your feet inside of a room (and outside) can mean the difference between winning, or losing the battle. You should never cross-over your feet inside of a room, this can cause you to trip over yourself if you suddenly have to move faster to move away from (or towards) a threat. Many “experts” say that crossing your feet isn’t an issue if you practice enough, I call BS. You should never cross them, instead train yourself to move without having to.

There are many other ways to move sideways. My favorite way to move sideways is by simply walking forward, but turning your torso to the side. This technique can be difficult to perfect, but with enough practice, you’ll find that it enables you to move faster and more efficiently through a room.

If this method is too difficult for you, there is another method to move sideways that I find to be equally effective (yet slower). This method is side-stepping. To side-step, simply assume your normal fighting stance by moving your feet shoulder-width apart and bending your knees slightly, and step to the side that you wish to move. Then, move your foot back to your beginning stance. This helps prevent you from crossing your feet when moving sideways.

When moving tactically, you should have a sturdy fighting stance. Like I said above, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly. Your torso should be leaned slightly forward, with your chest facing the enemy. If you’re wearing body armor, this helps increase the chance of your body armor stopping the round.

Some “experts” will try to tell you to position your body slightly sideways and assume a “fighting stance” (dominant foot slightly to the rear) while shooting. That is a terrible idea, as it limits your mobility while shooting. Also, if you get shot in the side, you have less of a chance of surviving your wounds. Instead of the round impacting possibly one organ (if it doesn’t bounce around in your ribcage), it will impact all the organs in a line.

When you’re walking, imaging you’re trying to hold a grapefruit (or watermelon depending on your leg size) between your knees. This will help keep your legs from being too narrow, thus causing you to trip. It may seem awkward at first, but with practice, you’ll notice a big difference in your weapon control as you move.

Distinguishing Threats

Every time you clear a room, there’s a risk that you’ll encounter an enemy whose intent is to take your life. You need to come to grips with that reality before you commit to clearing a room. Being too nervous before entering a room can be deadly, as confidence is a key factor when it comes to owning the room.

With that being said, not all people that you encounter in a room are threats. You can’t just shoot anyone you see in a room. You need to know how to distinguish between threats, and non-threats in a split second. This is where training comes into play. The next time you go to a range, use targets that represent civilians, as well as enemies. Using these types of targets will help train your mind to distinguish between friendly and enemy faster.

As far as legitimate threats are concerned, there is an order of precedence that you need to follow in order to accurately engage your threats in order. To simplify this, I’ve broken down the threats you might face into three categories; immediate threats (a threat that should be neutralized immediately), intermediate threats (threats you neutralize after the immediate threat), and non-threats (usually innocent bystanders who are caught in the crossfire).

Immediate Threats

These threats are your number one priority. An immediate threat can be classified many ways. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll boil it down to three. The first type of immediate threat is an enemy that’s shooting at you. This enemy is your top priority (obviously), because if you don’t neutralize him first, you’re already out of the fight before you start.

The second type of immediate threat is anyone showing the intent to cause harm to you or your team within 5 feet of you. These hostiles are within combatives (hand-to-hand combat) range, and should be dealt with accordingly. A simple, yet effective way to handle a close quarters hostile is to strike them with the muzzle of your weapon like a spear. This method is called a “muzzle thump”, and can kill an enemy if used correctly. At the very minimum, it will back them off enough to be able to acquire your target and engage them accordingly.

The third type of immediate threat is anyone anybody aiming their weapon at you. You can’t read minds, so if they are aiming their weapon at you, you must assume that their intent is to kill you. Always assume the worst-case scenario when clearing a room, not doing so can result in you (or your team mates) being on the receiving end of a painful death. Don’t give verbal warnings to anyone aiming their weapon at you when you’re clearing a room, at that point they have committed to causing you harm. It’s up to you to neutralize the threat accordingly.

Intermediate Threats

These types of threats are still to be considered as potential threats, but not necessarily dangerous enough to warrant being classified as an immediate threat. Once the immediate threats are neutralized (if there is any), intermediate threats should be your next concern. Just like immediate threats, intermediate ones can be classified many ways. The first type of intermediate threats are people that either have a weapon, or have easy access to one. These threats should be given a verbal warning to get on the ground. If they don’t understand, use your non-firing hand and signal for them to get down. If they don’t, handle the threat accordingly.

The second type of intermediate threat is animals. You don’t know if these animals are trained to attack, or if they feel threatened enough to attack you. Animals have unpredictable behavior, and if they do attack you it can take you out of the fight for enough time to distract you from other potential threats. Don’t be afraid to shoot an animal if you must. However, don’t be inhumane. Don’t shoot an animal just because they’re in the room, and if you must shoot one make sure you kill it.

Non-Threats

Don’t make the mistake of assuming non-threats are not dangerous. A non-threat can quickly become an immediate threat at any given notice. The purpose of classifying someone as a non-threat is to manage your priorities of engagements. Most non-threats are innocent bystanders that just happen to be on the receiving end of your speed and violence, and will comply with any direction you give them to avoid being hurt.

There is no simple description of a non-threat, however most of them look scared, and are weaponless. They usually get on the ground immediately after you enter the room. To help with this process, every time you enter a room to clear it, you need to give loud and clear instructions to everyone in the room to get on the ground. Once you breach the first door, any enemies inside already know you’re there. Be loud, and be violent. Anyone who is still standing and acting in an aggressive manner can be placed in either the immediate, or intermediate threat category (depending on the situation).

Most of the time, people who don’t wish to fight back will willingly get on the ground. Don’t just leave these people behind as you follow along to the next room. Make sure somebody secures them and has eyes on them. If you’re by yourself, carrying flex-cuffs or even zip ties can help mitigate the risk of them potentially becoming immediate threats. Simply restrain them using one of two items I mentioned above, and move on. For added effect (only if you feel that they could present themselves as a threat), knock them unconscious by muzzle thumping them, then move on.

Clearing a Room Alone

Clearing a room (or rooms) by yourself can be extremely dangerous. It’s impossible to see all four corners at once, so it’s imperative that you take advantage of the angles of view that a doorway offers you before you even enter the room. Once a door is open, and you’re standing outside of it, you can see inside the room slightly. Use this to your advantage, and clear that section before you enter the room. This way, when you enter, you can clear the area that you couldn’t see.

If you must, you can engage targets from outside of the room. Once you do, you need to enter the room shortly after. This prevents the enemy from setting up a defensive position if there are more in the room. Once you enter the room, make sure you don’t lower your barrel as you pass through the door and button-hook to your first corner. This adds more time to your reaction, should a threat present itself. Keep your barrel up, and quickly side-step through the doorway and own the first corner. As you pass by the door, shoulder-check it to make sure nobody is behind it while you clear your first corner.

When you’re clearing each corner of the room, never lower your muzzle. Your barrel should go where your eyes go, make it an extension of your body. Make sure you check the ceiling last (unless a threat presents itself there first). Sometimes, enemies will drill a hole in the second floor to look down into the room from the ceiling. A lot of times, this causes the person (or people) to lose their life.

If you can help it, try not to clear a room alone. The bare minimum requirement to successfully clear a room is two people. To maximize security, a four-person team is the most ideal number to have to clear a room. Clearing a room alone leaves you exposed to different blind spots in the room while you clear other areas. This increases the chances you have of getting hurt.

Clearing a Room with a Team

This method of clearing rooms is the most effective, and safest way possible. In a team (two to four people), you maximize security along with speed and violence. Every member of the team has a vital role that they need to follow in order to make the process of clearing a room effective. Make sure whoever you have in your team is trustworthy and efficient. You don’t want somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing in a room with you when you’re relying on them for your safety.

During the entire process (except outside of the room in the stack) of clearing a room with a team, each team member’s point of aim should never come closer than three feet of another team member’s barrel. This ensures that nobody is flagging (pointing your weapon at a team member) anyone. Fratricide (friendly fire) is a major risk factor in the process of clearing rooms. One slip up, and you could end up killing a team member, or vise-versa.

The Stack

To efficiently enter a room in an organized manner, your team must get in a stack. A stack is when your team lines up (one in front of the other) on one side of the door. Make sure that nobody in your team is rubbing up against the wall, as this can alert anyone inside of your specific movements. The stack is extremely important, because every member in the stack has a specific sector of fire that they are responsible for watching. This maximizes security, and effectiveness of your team as you prepare to move into the room.

Number One Man

In the stack, the number one man (the person up front) will have his eyes and weapon fixated on the door itself, prepared to engage any enemy that may come out. No matter what happens (unless SHTF), the number one guy never pulls away from securing the door. If the door requires a breach (whether it’s with a hammer, or a kick), you’ll signal with your hand (make your own signal) to convey that a breach is needed.

When you signal, you will never take your firing hand away from the trigger. Every time you need to signal, you will use your non-firing hand in case you need to engage an enemy spontaneously. The number one man in the stack will normally have a shotgun, this way if he needs to engage a group of enemies upon entering a room, he has a weapon with the most spread.

As the number one man, it’s your job to relay to your team when you’re ready to move into the room. Once you’re ready, take your non-firing hand and reach behind you to squeeze the leg of the number two man. He will repeat this signal until it reaches the number four man. Once the number four man is ready, he’ll send the signal back up. Once the number one man feels the squeeze on his leg from the number two man, he knows his team is ready to move into the room.

If you need to flow into a room immediately, you don’t have to send back a signal. A faster way to signal, is by the number one man leaning back (rocking back) onto the number two man, thus sending a lean throughout the team. Once the number four man is ready, he will lean forward, causing the team to lean forward. This method is called the “rock, and go”.

Number Two Man

The number two man will have his rifle over the shoulder furthest from the wall of the number one man. His sector of fire is straight ahead, ready to engage any enemy in the direction that the stack is facing. If you must fire your rifle as the number two man, you can use the shoulder of the number one man to support your rifle. If any signal is relayed back from the number one man, your job is to repeat the signal given by the number one man.

The number two man will usually be the most experienced person in the team (although it never hurts to practice other roles). This way, he can control the flow of the team, and push the number one man through the door if he hesitates. It’s up to him to signal to intermediate threats to get on the ground if need be. Only the number two man should be shouting instructions to the people inside of the room. This way, there can be no confusion as to what’s being said.

Number Three Man

The number three man will be canted slightly sideways between 45-90 degrees from the stack. His sector of fire is the flank on the side opposite of the wall, while also covering high points on the side. If any signal is sent back from the number two man, your job as the number three man is to relay the same signal back. Don’t keep looking at the number two man waiting for a signal. You’ll see the signal out of your prereferral vision.

The number three man will usually be the person with the best accuracy. This is due to the fact that his sector of fire outside of the room is the flank, as well as the high-ground. You want the person protecting the flank of the team to be able to accurately engage targets quickly, and efficiently should the need for it arise.

Number Four Man

The number four man will be turned almost completely around with his back to the number three man, though not fully turned around in case a signal is relayed. Your sector as the number four man is the rear flank, ready to engage any immediate threat that may pose itself while you’re in the stack. If a breach signal is called, you will move up to the front of the stack and (with your non-firing hand) run your hand along the door seem to inspect for any potential traps.

The number four man will usually have a weapon with a higher ammunition capacity. This is due to the fact that his sector mostly involves pulling rear security. He’ll need the ammunition capacity to be able to suppress immediate threats long enough to enable the team to move accordingly.

Once the door is deemed safe from potential traps, give the number one man a nod, signaling that you’re ready to breach the door. Once the number one man nods back, it means he’s ready for you to breach it. Breach the door by any means necessary (check to see if it’s unlocked before you kick it), then step to the opposite side of the door of the stack. This allows the team to flow into the room while you pull security outside to make sure no immediate threat presents itself. Once the number three man enters the room, you will flow in behind him.

Entering the Room

Now you’re getting into the shit. Once the team enters a room, you must gain total control of the situation. Remember, speed and violence are key factors when it comes to room clearing. Once your team enters the room, do so in a dominating presence. Remain confident in every decision you make once you’re inside of the room.

If you mess up, keep moving, stopping the forward momentum while clearing a room could mean the death of the entire team. The doorway is a “fatal funnel”, meaning for a moment, all gunfire will be directed at that door once you start moving in. The number one man draws the short end of the stick when it comes to room clearing, because he’s the most likely person to take the brunt of the gunfire.

Number One Man

As the number one man, whichever way you go into the room is your choice. However, I recommend button-hooking into the room (entering the doorway, and making a 180-degree turn to clear the corner on the same wall you were stacked on). This allows the number two man’s weapon to enter right behind you without having to move his muzzle to avoid flagging you, as his weapon will be on your outside shoulder while in the stack.

Once you enter the doorway, no matter what’s in the room (unless it’s a trap) you need to keep moving! Otherwise, you’re screwing over the people behind you, trapping them in the doorway while you all get shot at. If you see a trap, call it out immediately and move everybody out of the room as fast as you can. Other than this exception, once you’ve entered the doorway, you’re committed to that room. Your team’s life depends on it.

After you’ve dominated your first corner, don’t spend too much time concentrating on it. Move your sector of fire along the same wall until you reach the far corner on the same side. During this transition, you should be moving along the wall until you’ve reached the first corner that you cleared. Then, while you transition your point of aim to the far corner of the room on the opposite side, move about three feet along the wall after the first corner you’ve cleared.

Number Two Man

As the number two man, you should be in the door, moving forward from your position in the stack to the corner nearest the door immediately when the number one guy flows in. Just like the number one guy, you need to dominate the corner you’re assigned to. If the number one guy doesn’t button hook, you will. You should always end up on the opposite side of the room as the number one guy. This way, two sides of the room are cleared simultaneously.

As you dominate your first corner, move along the wall (while not directly rubbing against it) and transition your point of aim to the far corner on the same side as the first one. Your movement should match the number one man’s identically. When both you, and the number one man are set in your final positions, your sector will end up overlapping his. This increases the amount of the room covered by both of you. Remember, your point of aim should never come closer than three feet off the number one man’s barrel.

Number Three Man

As the number three man, you should flow into the room immediately behind the number two man. As you enter the door, side-step in the same direction that the number one man went and clear the center of the room. Don’t worry about the near corner, as the number one man has already cleared it. Your movement will stop before you reach the near corner, this way you’re on a separate wall than the number one man.

After your movement has stopped, your final sector of fire will be in the center of the room, to three feet off of the number two man’s barrel. You may need to adjust the position of your barrel as you enter the room to keep yourself from flagging the number two man, which is fine. Just remember that as soon as you can, you need to resume your normal firing position as you enter the room.

Number Four Man

As the number four man, you’re the last person to enter the room. Normally, you’ll be back-stepping as you move to the door, then finally turning around to enter the room. You won’t be in the room at the same time as the number three man, which is fine. However, you need to flow in as close as you can to him. You will go to the same side as the number two man, and follow the same movement pattern as the number three man, stopping before you reach the near corner.

Your sector of fire as you enter the room will be the center of the room (so the main part of the room is cleared four times). After you’ve cleared the center, you will visually clear the ceiling in its entirety while remaining in your final position. After you’ve cleared the ceiling, you will turn around and face the door (without exposing yourself), and pull security to ensure no threats come in behind you.

After the Room is Cleared

Once the room is deemed secure, the most senior person in the team (number two man) will get an “up” from the team. Getting an “up” is a term to describe making sure everyone’s okay. Usually the number two man will initiate the “up” by saying “status”. Following the command, the number one man will say “one up”, followed by the number two man saying “two up” and so on until the number four man states he’s up.

You don’t need to get a status from everyone in the team unless there was resistance in the room. If you clear the room with no issues, and the room was empty, don’t waste time by getting an up. The purpose of getting an “up” is to make sure everyone is able to follow on to the next room if there is one.

Follow-On Rooms

If you enter a room, and you are the first person to notice a door (or doorway) leading to another room, make sure you clear your sector first. Once you’ve cleared your sector, call out “door” followed by the direction in which the door is to the room. For example, if the door is at the 12 o’clock of the room, you would call “door front”. After you call out the door, you need to pull security on that door, and hold your security.

If you’re the number two man and you have the better vantage point on the door, you are now the number one man for the next room. This is why it’s important for everyone to practice playing different parts in the stack. Once there are follow-on rooms, you will rarely be in the same order as you were in the beginning in the stack.

Once the initial room is clear, have everyone stack on the person who has the better vantage point of the doorway. You do not have to re-stack on the wall by the next door, just stack behind the person who has the better vantage point and flow into the next room like you did with the initial one. Initially, this may seem like a lot of information to retain and perfect. With enough practice, however, you’ll find that your team will gradually find a rhythm and flow together more easily.

Murphy’s Law

In any combat scenario, you’ll quickly learn about Murphy’s Law, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. When clearing a room, this law tends to show its ugly face more often than not. Everyone has a plan until the first shot is fired, then it all goes downhill from there. When room clearing, it’s imperative to be able to adapt quickly to any adversity that you’ll face (and you WILL face many adversities when room clearing).

If your weapon malfunctions, or you run out of ammunition in your magazine, take a step closer to the center of the room, take a knee, and call out a word that you and your group come up with to show that you’re temporarily out of the fight. For example, if your weapon malfunctions in the middle of an engagement, after you’ve stepped in and taken a knee, call out “down”. This lets your team know that you’re temporarily out of the fight and to assume your sector until you are good to go.

Never just stand back up once your weapon is good, call out a predetermined word such as “up” and wait for a teammate to give you the go-ahead to stand back up. The reason you want to take a step away from the wall towards the center of the room, is so the next person behind you can get past you without having to go in front of you to assume your sector. If an enemy is within striking distance when your weapon malfunctions, handle it accordingly while using hand-to-hand combat to neutralize the threat.

Often times, while the number one man enters the room, he will get shot. This will cause him to fall, sometimes in the doorway. If this happens, step over him and continue clearing the room. If the number one man goes down, you now have a three-man stack and you will clear the room normally, just without the number four man in the picture. For example, the number two man will assume the number one man’s responsibilities and so on until you reach the number three man.

Only after the room has been successfully cleared, will you render aid to your fallen teammate. It may suck having to step over your buddy who’s hurt, but if you stop clearing the room to help him, you’re risking more men going down because they aren’t engaging the immediate threat in the room.

Securing a Building

I’m not going to go too far into detail about securing a building, because this article pertains to room clearing. However, it’s important to know what to do if you have enough people to secure the outside of the building that you’re entering with your team. If the building is large enough, you will need at least two teams to leap-frog rooms to maintain enough security. That is a completely different ball game.

If it’s a smaller building (like your BOL) and you have more than four people, have the remaining people secure the outer perimeter of the building to increase your level of security and safety. There’s two types of outer-security; relaxed, and tight. With relaxed security, your outer-security personnel will push further out from the building, and create a circle (if there’s enough personnel) on the outer perimeter facing outwards.

For tighter security, you can have your personnel positioned on a corner of the building, facing the direction of the most likely direction of an immediate threat (i.e. the area opposite from which you came). Outer-security can play a major factor in the success of securing your BOL if there are other looters nearby. This allows the team clearing the room to concentrate on the inside of the building, instead of what’s outside.

Communication

Communication is key when it comes to the success of room clearing. Before, during, and after you clear a room, your team should be constantly communicating (hand signals, or verbally) to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Failing to communicate when room clearing can lead to fratricide (friendly fire), thus completely ruining the mission. Make sure you practice communication techniques with your team, and develop hand and arm signals.

Chem-lights are a great item to carry on you in your BOB, because you can use them to mark a room that has been cleared if there are multiple rooms. A green or blue chem-light is the universal signal for “all good” when room clearing. Once a room has been cleared, and your team is ready to follow onto the next, crack a green or blue chem-light and drop it in the first doorway. This lets any follow on friendly personnel know that the first room is secure and they can move in if necessary.

Weapon Attachments / Configuration

Although you can clear a room successfully with an AR-15 (or any rifle) with just iron sights and no added equipment, weapon attachments make the very delicate art of room clearing much easier. Whichever way you want to configure your weapon is your own preference, I’m only here to provide you with guidance. My advice is to not get too crazy with your attachments, the more attachments you have, the more attachments you need to worry about malfunctioning.

In my article “The Best Firearm Attachments – For All Firearm Types”, I discuss the attachments that I recommend for each type of weapon you may have in your arsenal and why. Room clearing requires a balance between the weapon, and the person who uses it. Versatility is key when it comes to your weapon, so make sure your attachments match what you would really need in real life.

Your weapon should be configured to your liking. It’s okay to try new configurations, but don’t keep jumping back and forth. Pick one configuration and stick with it, this way you can practice and become efficient with it. In my article “Advanced Shooting Techniques for when SHTF”, I talk about how you should hold your weapon in different scenarios, including room clearing.

Wrap-Up

Tactical room clearing is a vital skill that all avid preppers should learn, and practice. The odds of looters finding and occupying your bug out location after SHTF are high. Knowing how to properly (and safely) secure your BOL is key to surviving a post-disaster environment. Unless you have a secondary BOL with supplies to sustain your team (or family), your primary BOL is your ticket to survival. Being able to take it back from looters is essential to your survival.

Room clearing is a complex, and difficult process. It takes a lot of practice, and repetition. Once you feel like you’ve perfected tactical room clearing, practice some more. You should be sick of practicing, this way when SHTF, you don’t have to think about what to do, your instinct will kick in.

There are two different types of rooms; corner-fed (where the door is by the corner of the room), and center-fed (where the door is in the center of the room). Don’t worry too much about what type of room you’re clearing. You won’t always know what kind of room you’re getting into. If you get the basics down, you’ll be able to adjust accordingly. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t position yourself near the fatal funnel (doorway).

There are many aspects that revolve around room clearing. So many, in fact, that if I was to discuss all of them, you’d be reading all day. This article is to familiarize you with the basic (and some advanced) aspects and techniques used when clearing a room tactically. Never become complacent when clearing rooms, a threat can emerge at any given moment. Remember – slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

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How to Dehydrate Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs

When it comes to dehydration, there are few better options when it comes to preserving in-season produce. Dehydrated foods, if properly stored, last for months. If dehydrated food is stored properly, some homesteaders even claim that dehydrated food can last up to a year!  Unlike canned and frozen foods, the equipment for which takes up quite a bit of space, dehydrated foods can be stacked and stored easily.

Little equipment is required to successfully dehydrate your foods, and even beginners can learn to do it with very few start-up resources. It is a great option for a prepper or homesteader looking to maximize storage space and build enough of a food store to last throughout a long winter season.

Drying food using a dehydrator removes enough moisture from foods so that bacteria, yeast, and mold cannot grow. It should be noted that fruits, vegetables, and herbs (in otherwise, anything plant based) are the only products that should be dehydrated according to these methods. Meats can also be dehydrated, but require additional time and know-how, as well as the addition of several ingredients.

There are five methods that you can use when dehydrating your produce: through the use of a dehydrator, in an oven, in the sun, in the microwave, or in fresh air. Essentially, any of these methods will work so long as you have low humidity and a source of low heat (around 130 degrees Fahrenheit). You also need ample air circulation to help remove moisture from the food.

The steps for each process are outlined below. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs can essentially be dehydrated in exactly the same way. It should be noted that, due to the low acidity of most vegetables, these should never be dehydrated using the sun or air methods. Using a dehydrator is best for most types of vegetables as their low acidity can affect food safety.

Ingredients Needed

  • Fresh fruit, vegetables or herbs—use the best quality produce for the best results and avoid overripe or bruised products
  • Knife
  • Air-tight containers or freezer bags
  • Cutting board
  • Spices (optional)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Salt (optional)

You will also need one of the following: a hot, dry location within your home, an oven, a microwave, or a dehydration machine.

How to Dry Fruits and Vegetables: The First Two Steps

Although the methods and instructions will vary slightly for foods depending on how you choose to dehydrate them, the first two steps must be followed for any type. They are as follows:

  1. Peel your fruits and vegetables (optional). Generally, skin will become tough during the dehydration process, so removing it helps the overall flavor of your food. Sliced, peeled pieces will dry more quickly than those than haven’t been peeled as well, because skin reduces surface area and does not allow moisture to escape.
  2. Pretreat your foods. Some foods dry better when pretreated, as this process reduces oxidation. Many foods achieve a better color and nutrient content when pretreated. This also increased shelf life. Additionally, any fruit that has been left unpeeled or uncovered must be treated to destroy bacteria or insect larvae.
    1. To pretreat fruits, place them in a solution of a half teaspoon of citric acid with two cups of water (or equal parts lemon juice and water). Leave them in there for ten minutes before beginning the dehydration process.
    2. To pretreat vegetables, blanch three to five minutes in boiling water. Blanching is a good idea for vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, and corn. Onions, garlic, and herbs do not need to be blanched.
    3. To pretreat fruits and vegetables for which you leave the skin intact (such as blueberries or cranberries), prepare boiling water. Dip each piece in boiling water to crack the skins. Do not leave the fruit submerged or you will cook it. Chill and then dehydrate.

dehydrated fruit in mason jars

How to Dehydrate Fruit, Veggies, and Herbs: The Dehydrator Method 

A dehydrator typically creates the best quality product compared to other methods of drying. Although most machines are inexpensive, their purchase can be a barrier for many beginning homesteaders. Therefore, other options are available that maximize the resources you already have.

Dehydrators consist of an electric element that produces heat, along with a fan and vent to circulate air. These machines dry food quickly, uniformly, and safely. Because they consist of several racks stacked on top of each other and are entirely enclosed, you don’t have to worry about pests nibbling on your fruits and veggies before they’re done drying.

Instructions:

  1. Follow The First Two Steps (peeling and pretreating).
  2. Slice fruits and vegetables thinly.
  3. Place pieces on drying racks of the dehydrator, without allowing them to overlap or touch.
  4. Return trays to the dehydrator.
  5. Dehydrate at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit for anywhere between five to thirty hours. The length of dehydration will depend largely on the type of food you are drying. Use judgment and follow the guidelines below to ensure the food is entirely dry.

Test your food periodically to see if it has cured properly. Dehydration is complete when fruit is pliable and no beads of moisture appear. Perfectly dehydrated vegetables will be brittle and crunchy. Do not move or pack food until it is completely dry.

Dried food can be packed into an airtight container for several days, then stored in a dark location. Make sure food is packed tightly–this will allow any remaining moisture to distribute evenly.

 

The Air Drying Method

Air drying works well for low-maintenance produce such as herbs, hot peppers, and even mushrooms. Air drying can be difficult because it requires a hot, airy location that is often not available in most households. However, it is a free process and requires no extra equipment.

Air drying differs slightly from sun drying, as it must take place indoors. This can be done regardless of where you live, but you must still moderate the conditions. Air-drying can take place in a ventilated attic, spare room, or screened-in area such as a greenhouse.

Instructions:

  1. Follow The First Two Steps (peeling and preparing).
  2. Bind fruits and vegetables in a tight bundle (using a stem) or place them evenly next to each other. It’s okay if they touch.
  3. Place or hang your foods in an area with good ventilation and high heat. For example, you can place individual pieces on a milk crate or mesh window screen, or hang in a sunny window.
  4. Allow the pieces to dry for two to six days.

Follow the same steps as you would with a dehydration machine to ensure that your food is fully dehydrated. About 20% moisture will remain in air-dried fruits and vegetables, so you may want to consume it more quickly than you would food dehydrated with a machine.

raisins

photo: air dried fruit

 

Dehydrating Fruit, Veggies, and Herbs: Sun Drying Method 

Sun-drying is a method that requires consistent exposure to direct sunlight during the day. This one is tricky to do unless you live in a hot, arid climate, such as in the American Southwest. Most locales will not receive a low enough relative humidity to sun-dry fruits and vegetables.

This option only takes about three to four days, but if humidity is high, the food will mold before it gets a chance to dry. This makes it a futile effort for many. However, many popular foods (such as raisins) are typically sun-dried.

tomatoes

photo: sun dried tomatoes

Instructions:

  1. Follow The First Two Steps (peeling and preparing).
  2. Bind fruits and vegetables in a tight bundle (using a stem) or place them evenly next to each other in an outside location.
  3. Spread foods out on paper-lined trays covered with cheesecloth.
  4. Turn food every day.
  5. Allow the pieces to dry for two to four days.

Follow the same steps as you would with a dehydration machine to ensure full dehydration. It’s important that you turn the pieces every day so that they receive equal sun and heat exposure, as well as aeration. Make sure your pieces are covered. Since this process is conducted outside, your food is more likely to be nibbled by pests.

 

 

How to Dehydrate Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs: the Microwave Drying Method

Microwave drying works best for small quantities of foods. Typically, only herbs and leaf vegetables can be microwaved-dried. Others will generally wilt or cook through entirely before they are dehydrated. Food that has been microwave-dried generally just tastes overcooked instead of dehydrated, and the jury is still out when it comes to the safety and long-term preservation of food using a microwave.

Instructions:

  1. Follow The First Two Steps (peeling and preparing).
  2. Place no more than five small pieces of food between two paper towels.
  3. Microwave for two to three minutes.
  4. After three minutes, remove the plants and allow them to cool.
  5. If they are dry and brittle, they are done. If not, continue to microwave for intervals of thirty seconds each until they are finished.

Follow the same steps as you would with a dehydration machine to pack and store your food.

 

The Oven Drying Method

Using an oven is another option. Most households have an oven, so this is a highly convenient and inexpensive option. However, it takes three times longer to dry food in an oven than in a dehydrator, as it is not as efficient. Ovens also do not have built-in fans, so it’s necessary to add your own for necessary air circulation. You must also have an oven that can be set as low as 140 degrees to avoid cooking your food instead of drying it.

Instructions:

  1. Follow The First Two Steps (peeling and preparing).
  2. Place your foods on a clean cookie sheet or wire rack. Do not allow the items to touch or overlap each other.
  3. Heat your oven to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow your food to dehydrate for several hours.
  4. While dehydrating, leave the oven door propped open about two to three inches. Additionally, place a large fan near the outside of the oven to ensure that food receives proper air circulation.
  5. It is also advisable to monitor the drying temperature by using a thermometer, especially if your oven is finicky or sensitive to operating at low temperatures. You want to make sure you aren’t overcooking your food.
  6. Food will be dehydrated after about six hours if using a wire rack, or eight hours if using a cookie sheet (due to the difference in ventilation).

Follow the same steps as you would with a dehydration machine to determine if your food is fully dehydrated, and to store.

Wrap-Up

Drying your fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a process that allows you to enjoy the bounty of your garden throughout the year. Even if you have limited start-up funds or time, dehydration is an enjoyable hobby that will allow you to store and stockpile food to your heart’s content.

The post How to Dehydrate Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

The Top 5 Signaling Techniques for Survival without Technology

There are many other forms of communicating other than with technology. Knowing these other forms can benefit you in many ways, one of which is adding backup plans in case the main forms of communication (electronic) fail. A main example of this would be in the event of an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse). An EMP is basically a nuclear explosion set off 30-300 miles into the atmosphere, releasing particles that destroy electronics.

Knowing different signaling techniques could also end up saving your life in case of a disaster where you require immediate help. There are many documented cases in WWII where a fighter plane went down, and the survivors had to use mirrors to reflect the sun and signal friendly aircraft to save them. The best part about manual signaling techniques, is that there are multiple ways to effectively communicate with whoever you need to without technology (which is prone to EMPs).

Although an EMP can cause major damage to electronics within its radius, there are other effective ways to communicate with people. Though they might not be as effective as electronics, these other forms of communication can prove to be very useful. One very effective way is by using Morse code.

Signaling Situations

There are a vast number of situations where you may need to communicate with others in the absence of technology. Many of these situations don’t even involve a post-collapse environment. If you become lost at sea or your plane crashes, sending signs of distress could end up being observed by rescuers, which could save your life and the life of others.

While there are hundreds of scenarios that could require you to use these signaling techniques as a prepper, here is a list of 10 real-world scenarios where you would need them:

  1. Plane Crash
  2. Lost in the Wilderness
  3. Lost at Sea
  4. Kidnapping / Hostage Situations
  5. Clearing your BOL Upon Arrival
  6. Moving Through the Wilderness / City
  7. Communicating with Others at your BOL
  8. Communicating Dangers over a Long Distance
  9. Sending an SOS (Distress Signal)
  10. When Silence is a Priority

Morse Code

Morse code was invented in 1838 by Samuel Morse, and has been an effective method of communication that is still used today. When it was invented, it was used to communicate messages long distance by using a Telegraph. Today, however, Morse code is used for much more. Morse code is a series of dots (“dits”), and dashes (“dahs”). When speaking Morse code, you won’t say “dot” or “dash”. Instead, you’ll say “Dit” pronounced “Di” with a short “I” sound and a silent “T”, or “Dah” with a short “A” sound.

In the military, Morse code can be used by soldiers when their radios break by flashing their lights at each other over a long distance. I’ve personally had to revert to Morse code by banging a stick on a tree when our radios went down, since cell phone communication can easily be hacked and yelling a message is a clear violation of OPSEC. Morse code doesn’t have to be communicated only by sound, it can also be effectively communicated visually (i.e. flashlights).

The Morse code international alphabet is simple to learn (with the right dedication), as well as the numbers. On top of just numbers and letters, there are also prosigns. These prosigns are procedural signals generally not part of the informational portion of the text. Below, I’ve included the Morse code international alphabet, along with a list of prosigns.

Morse Code Alphabet

A: .- / Ä: .-.- / Á: .–.- / Å: .–.- / B: -…

C: -.-. / Ch: – – – – / D: -..

E: . / É: ..-.. / F: ..-.

G: –. / H: …. / I: .. / J: .—

K: -.- / L: .-.. / M: – – / N: -. / Ñ: – -.- –

O: – – – / Ö: —. / P: .–. / Q: –.-

R: .-. / S: … / T: – / U: ..- / Ü: ..- –

V: …- / W: .- – / X: -..- / Y: -.- – / Z: –..

0: – – – – – / 1: .- – – – / 2: ..- – –

3: …- – / 4: ….- / 5: ….. / 6: -….

7: – -… / 8: – – -.. / 9: – – – -.

Delete Last Word (in case of a mistake): ……..

Morse Code Prosigns

SOS (Distress): …- – -…

AA (New Line): .-.-

AR (End of Message): .-.-.

AS (Wait): .-…

BK (Break): -…-.-

BT (New Paragraph): -…-

CL (Going off the Air, Clear): -.-..-..

CT (Start Copying): -.-.-

SK (End of Transmission, Also VA): …-.-

SN (Understood, Also VE): …-.

There are multiple advanced factors that surround Morse code, but this list describes the more basic aspects of it. As a prepper, you won’t need to know the absolute most advanced areas of Morse code, but knowing the basics of it could end up saving your life when you need to relay a message long distance when technology fails. A simple way to use Morse code with a radio is to depress the PTT button (walkie talkies) in a Morse pattern. If you’re an avid prepper, I highly recommend learning Morse code.

Everyone learns differently, so some learning methods might work better for you than others. A great method I used to learn Morse code, was copying down simple books in Morse code, then reading it back to myself. There are also YouTube videos that show examples if that better suits your learning needs. Another great learning method is to have you and a friend flash lights back and forth at each other, this allows you both to learn simultaneously.

Flares

Flares serve many purposes in today’s world. Ranging from a signaling method, to emergency fire starters, to even a weapon. There are two types of flares; white, and red. White flares are used for non-emergency situations like signaling a lap in a race, while red flares are used for emergency situations. Make sure when you purchase flares, you acquire the red ones. Most emergency personnel are trained to associate a red flare with somebody in distress.

While there are two colors of flares, there are also aerial and hand-held. Both types serve a different purpose (depending on your location and situation). Hand-held flares can be used for fire starting in a situation where your ignition source might be faulty, or the wood is too damp for the traditional flint and steel method.

Most flares operate by burning magnesium, sulfur, or charcoal. More than likely the flare you’ll acquire uses magnesium. Most marine flares (flares that can be used while submerged in water) use magnesium as a fuel source. In order for the fuel to ignite and burn, it needs an oxidizer. Most flares use potassium perchlorate, or potassium nitrate as their oxidizer. Without getting too involved in chemical compounds, most flares contain phosphorus.

Hand-Held

These types of flares are extremely useful for pinpointing your exact location in case of an emergency. While you can hold most hand-held signal flares while it burns, I don’t recommend it. Most flares can burn as hot as over 5000 degrees Fahrenheit, so any slip up can cause extreme burns to you, or your fellow preppers around you.

Hand-held flares can also be used for a great ignition source in case your primary ignition source for fire isn’t working, or the wood you’re burning is damp. Most hand-held flares have an igniter built into the flare casing, and are water resistant. While all igniting sources on flares are different, most flares have their igniter under a cap on one end. Read the instructions printed on the flare to know its proper usage.

While signaling for somebody with a hand-held flare, don’t just wave your arms around like a crazy person. This can cause the particles released by the flare to burn you as they shoot up. Instead, raise the flare above your head and away from your body. Then slowly move your arms into an X shape, and back to their original position straight up. This method of signaling works best when you have two flares available.

Not all hand-held flares shoot hot phosphate out of the top, smoke flares are more effective during the daytime. The concept is the same, however instead of relying on the brightness of the flare for signaling, these flares shoot massive amounts of smoke from the tip. While similar to the concept of a smoke grenade, these flares can be held in your hand if you follow the right safety precautions.

DISCLAIMER: NEVER horseplay with flares, they can cause serious injury or death if mishandled. Read all of the safety instructions that come with the flares you acquired.

Aerial Flare

These types of flares are either fired from a special flare gun, or they come in a tube that can be primed and fired internally. In the military, we use ones that are in a tube called “star clusters”. Aerial flares are highly recommended for any personnel traveling on open waters, as they can be seen from up to 47 miles away by boat (or even further by air).

There are several different types of aerial flares, but my favorite brand is “Orion”. Their lineup of flares are all coast guard approved, including; “pocket rocket” flares (visible up to 21 miles), 25mm aerial flares (visible up to 27 miles), “Skyblazer II” aerial flares (visible up to 31 miles), 12 gauge HP aerial flares (visible up to 34 miles), and “SOLAS” (Safety of Life at Sea) parachute flares (visible up to 47 miles).

The most effective aerial signaling flare is the parachute flare, due to its long exposure time (40-45 seconds). The parachute attached to the flare allows it to stay in the air longer, increasing your chances of it being seen by potential rescuers. There are many different ways to deploy your aerial flare, but I recommend using the “Orion” safety flare gun. When it comes to your safety, trust a name that’s trusted by the USCG (United States Coast Guard).

A great starter pack if you’re not looking to spend an arm and a leg on aerial flares and a gun, is the “Orion Coastal Alerter Safety Flare Gun Kit”. Costing only a total of about $115, the kit comes with a 12-gauge safety flare gun with a bandolier, six 12-gauge red aerial flares, a SOLAS-approved whistle and lanyard, a signal mirror, and a neoprene storage case that floats. It may seem like a lot of money, but if safety is your main concern, you can’t beat this price for quality.

Making a Hand-Held Signaling Flare

There are many ways that you can make a hand-held signaling flare, but these two ways seem to work best (if done right). The first homemade flare is made out of two easily accessible items; electrical tape, and eight inch sparklers (the kind you would use on a cake). While this method requires an outside ignition source, it can be quite effective at signaling for help (and will stay lit in the rain, if you can light it).

Method One – Sparkler Flare (Cost: $1 per flare)

Materials: 20, eight inch sparklers / black electrical tape.

  1. Bunch the sparklers together in a spherical shape.
  2. Locate the middle sparkler and pull it about a half-inch higher than the rest.
  3. Wrap the black electrical tape around the sticks of the sparklers, along with the sparkler heads themselves. The entire bundle should be wrapped in a layer of tape (I recommend at least two layers for the handle). The middle sparkler should be exposed at the top from the tape.

To use this flare, simply light the sparkler that is sticking up and hold it away from your body. A massive amount of sparks will shoot up from it, so I recommend having some form of fire resistant gloves on (most tactical gloves are) when you light it.

Method Two – Signal Flare Grenade (Cost: $2-3 per flare)

Materials: 20, eight inch sparklers / match box / 1” x 6” cardboard tube / black electrical tape / striking surface from a matchbox / small zip tie / steel wire (to make a pull-pin).

  1. Cut a small hole on one end of the tube big enough to fit two matches (stripped of the phosphorus tip) through on either side.
  2. Take one of the sparklers, and tape four matches (with the heads still attached) around the tip of the sparkler so that the sparkler is sticking slightly up above them.
  3. Make a ring out of the steel wire (a key chain ring will work). Then, place the striking surface of the matchbox that you cut out in a U-shape around the pull pin with the striking surface facing inwards. After that, tape the striking surface of the matchbox to the steel ring to hold it in place.
  4. Carefully insert the sparkler (that you taped four matches to) inside of the matchbox striking surface that you taped to the steel ring. Then, use your zip tie to secure them together (make sure the zip tie is underneath the match heads).
  5. Crush the rest of the sparklers, so only the powder remains.
  6. Pour the powder into the tube (obviously make sure the bottom of the tube is sealed by either tape, or something else) about half way.
  7. Insert the igniter into the tube with the pull-pin outside of the tube.
  8. Insert the two match sticks through the pre-cut holes, and through the space between the matchbox striking surface, and the match heads on your igniter to hold it in place.
  9. Next, push paper (toilet paper works best) around your igniter to increase the pressure inside of the tube. Note: you don’t need a whole lot of it, just enough to fill the gaps.
  10. Finally, tape the outside of the tube completely to seal the contents inside of the tube.

To use this flare, simply pull the pin and walk away. You do not want to hold this flare, due to the massive amounts of sparks it emits. The total burn time may vary; however, it usually lasts around 10-15 seconds continuously. These types of flares are a good last-resort to have in case your other flares are used. You can also use these flares to start a fire, or create a movement trap using a tripwire to pull the pin (thus, alerting you to their presence).

There’s also a great video that accurately describes how to make one of these flare grenades:

Disclaimer: ALWAYS use extreme caution when handling flammable/explosive items. Use responsibly, and keep away from ignition sources.

Fire

Fire has been used as a method of signaling since it was first founded by cave men. In the medieval times, fires were lit in observation towers to signal the presence of enemies from the area where they were spotted, all the way to the castle area to alert the armies. While their fires were much larger (in order to see them long-distance), it was a very effective method to alert one another back when technology wasn’t available.

Native Americans (particularly the Navajo, Apache, and Sioux) refined communicating with fire when they incorporated using “smoke signals”. The revolutionary new way to communicate with fire by using smoke made the Native Americans able to communicate basic messages over a long distance. While there is no specific language for smoke signaling, there are a few basic messages that are still used and recognized by preppers today.

Another very effective way of communicating with fires, is sending an SOS signal with three fires lit in a triangular pattern. The USCG (United States Coast Guard) is trained to associate this pattern with an emergency, thus sending the proper response to help you. This method will help you save your use of flares, or make the use of flares more effective if combined with this method of fire signaling.

Smoke Signals

This type of signaling is only effective if there isn’t a heavy presence of wind in your vicinity. If there’s a heavy wind, the smoke will more than likely be blown away without effectively communicating the message. While this method is considered “ancient”, it’s still very effective for communicating over a mid to long-distance range.

You don’t have to be in the wilderness to convey messages using smoke signals. If you have a fire place in your home, you have the perfect setup needed to use this signaling method. Every house with a fire place has a chimney that smoke escapes from. If you’re in distress and have no other means to communicate with potential rescuers, you can use smoke signals to convey your distress message.

To use smoke signaling, you first need a fire hot enough to produce smoke. Adding pine needles, or other leaves can help produce more smoke if necessary. Once you have a good amount of smoke billowing from your fire, you’ll need a blanket (or something to block the upward flow of smoke temporarily). Don’t lay the blanket directly over the fire, as this can cause it to catch fire also, rendering it useless.

Take your blanket and wave it over the fire in the same pattern you would use to shake the dust off a rug. This temporarily blocks the upward flow of smoke, creating a pattern of smoke puffs in the air (like a train). There are three basic messages that are easy to convey using smoke signals, and can be easily remembered by anybody you teach.

  1. One puff of smoke: This signal is meant to get the attention of somebody, relaying that you’re preparing to send a signal to them.
  2. Two puffs of smoke: This signal relays that your camp is established, and all is well and safe.
  3. Three puffs of smoke: This is a distress signal (much like firing three rounds in succession) to relay that you require immediate help or assistance.

Sending signals with a fire can be very simple, if you have the means to do so. Make sure you only use these types of signals if you aren’t worried about concealing your position. These signals are more easily recognized during daylight hours, as smoke can be difficult to see at night over a distance. Fire attracts attention, so only use it if you aren’t worried about concealment.

Mirrors / Fresnel Lenses

Mirrors are a great way to reflect light towards whoever you need to get a message across to. Back in WWII, pilots who were shot down used signal mirrors to reflect sunlight toward friendly aircraft to help provide their location in order to send a rescue their way. POWs who got their hands on a mirror (or reflective piece of glass) would also use these to signal to friendly aircraft to let them know that they were being held captive.

Most signaling mirrors are small enough to keep in your wallet, making them very useful and versatile for your EDC. You can also relay Morse code by using a signal mirror, giving them a dual-purpose. To use a signaling mirror, practice reflecting the light from inside of your house on it towards somebody. This can help you familiarize yourself with the angles necessary to use it.

Fresnel Lenses

These lenses are see through pieces of plastic that have a circular layout inside of them. This helps direct whatever light is passed through them in a more concentrated form. These lenses can be used like signaling mirrors, but also carry light over a further distance. The great part about Fresnel lenses is that you can direct sunlight through them to start a fire if you need to.

How this works is the sunlight is concentrated through a series of lenses (just like a magnifying glass) onto a surface, heating the surface up immensely until combustion happens. This is an extremely useful tool in case your primary ignition source is rendered useless. Most Fresnel lenses are small enough to carry in your wallet, so you can put them in the same compartment as your signaling mirror if you want to.

red chemlight

Chem-Lights (Glow Sticks)

Chem-lights are used extensively in the armed forces, proving them to be a very reliable means of communication in the absence of technology. Their multiple uses, along with their easy to use design make them a great tool to store away in your BOB, along with your BOL. The best part about chem-lights are the fact that they’re light-weight, making them easy to carry over long distances in your BOB.

Different colors for chem-lights offer a different meaning. White isn’t necessarily associated with anything, and can be used as a simple illumination source. Red chem-lights often are associated with an emergency. When you combine the use of a red chem-light with a blue one, it means that you require immediate assistance that could mean life or death (think police lights). Green chem-lights are often associated with safety.

To relay that your area is safe, drop a green chem-light in the area you’ve deemed safe. Blue chem-lights alone convey the same message as green lights, or could warn others of a water crossing while moving through the woods if silence is your motive. Yellow or orange chem-lights convey the message of “use caution”. This message is for an area that you haven’t deemed safe yet, but doesn’t necessarily require the use of a red one.

These colors can also be conveyed in the form of flags. While flags are subject to the wind carrying them away, you won’t have to worry about this happening if you secure the flag tightly to a sturdy surface. These can be incredibly useful to relay a message to onlookers who see your BOL, or even the area where you post your flag. The downside to this method, however, is flags have a limited visibility. They require a clear line of sight, and are very hard to distinguish specific colors in the dark.

These sticks can be used to communicate in a variety of ways. One of the best uses for them, is to signal that everything’s okay after you’ve cleared a room (think of clearing your BOL once you’ve arrived). Once you’ve deemed an area safe for the rest of your team to move in, drop a green chem-light on the ground either in the doorway of the room, or in the area you have deemed safe. This allows you to quickly communicate to your family (or team) that an area is safe, without having to step back and tell them verbally.

Another great way to communicate with chem-lights is by taping them to trees to mark where you’ve been, or to mark where your location is for friendly parties. If you don’t wish to advertise your location to potential enemies, that’s understandable. However, most forms of communication you use pose a risk of doing so. Chem-lights are only effective during the night, because they rely on the chemicals inside of them to cause a glow effect.

Another item you can use for this same purpose is tape. You can mark your prior locations to prevent you from getting lost, and make back-tracking easier by wrapping a bright-colored tape to a tree every hundred feet or so. The downside to this method, however, is your enemy can also find your location. If you decide to use this, heed caution to the potential risk of your enemies exploiting this method.

To use a chem-light, remove the stick from the water-proof wrapper it comes in. Then, bend it in the middle until you hear a crack. After it has made a cracking sound, shake it vigorously to maximize the mixture of chemicals to produce the brightest glow possible. Make sure you don’t actually break the chem-light open, as this will render the light useless and can cause skin irritation.

Close-Quarters Communication (for Distress Situations)

In the Vietnam War, United States troops would use blinking as a method of communication if they were held as POWs (Prisoners of War). Communicating certain messages verbally could mean instant death to anyone who is caught, so soldiers would blink in Morse code to convey messages that required secrecy. This could be incredibly useful if you find yourself and your team (or family) captured and in need to make a plan.

Blinking isn’t the only method of conveying messages in Morse code. You can also tap a finger on your leg, or on any surface. This is why Morse code is very important to learn as a prepper, you may find it extremely useful one day in a desperate situation. To signal that you’re about to be using Morse code, blink or tap the “SOS” signal repeatedly until the person you’re trying to relay a message to acknowledges your intent.

Using this method can be very useful to communicate a plan to retaliate against your kidnappers, or an escape. Another use for this is if they are recording you, and worst case scenario you know you will die. You can relay your last message in Morse code, so that whoever sees the video can relay your message to the proper parties.

Wrap-Up

Technology won’t always be available for us to use post-collapse, or even in the event that you don’t have access to technology where you are. Battery supplies will run out, electricity won’t always be here for you to use. This is why it’s very important as a prepper to learn different signaling techniques that don’t require technology to use.

As preppers, we prepare for the worst-case scenario. What good does this do, if we rely on technology to communicate? While you don’t need to know every non-technology communication method, it’s best to keep a few of these methods in your mental arsenal. Morse code is incredibly useful to learn, as it can be fun to know a new language, as well as its uses in distress situations. Morse code is also a universal language, so if you’re in a foreign territory, you don’t have to worry about a language barrier.

Heed caution when using different signaling techniques, as some of them could give away your position. If your goal is silence, as well as being hidden, limit the communication you convey to others. However, if you need help, these signaling techniques could end up saving your life one day.

The post The Top 5 Signaling Techniques for Survival without Technology appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

How to Heat Your House with Wood

No matter if you want to save on bills to use that money to prep or if you are working on your retreat, you will need to heat your home with wood. Within this, you will learn how to do that, along with learning what common mistakes to avoid.

Where you live will change the level of access you have to trees. Some preppers who have purchased property that has a lot of wooded areas so as to retrieve firewood, while there are others that will need to store wood. You may find that you will have to purchase firewood if you don’t have access to any wooded areas. Otherwise, you can be arrested for trespassing. After storms pass through certain towns or communities will have some people who will pay for you to come clear off the fallen branches or trees. This is a great opportunity to earn a little extra cash and get free firewood for your home.

How to Start a Fire in Your Wood Stove

It may seem like a small task; however, starting a fire the proper way needs practice. Here are the steps that you should follow:

  1. Ensure that the draft in the chimney is going upwards. If you feel air coming downward, follow step 4.
  2. Prepare your kindling. There are different ways to do this. Here is the best way you can use. Put the fire starters, crumpled paper, or fatwood on the bottom of the stove. Put the kindling on the paper, which is tinder. The drier the kindling and the smaller, the easier it will be to start your fire. You will need to cross the kindling in a crisscross pattern so that there is airflow in between the pieces.
  3. Put more wood on the top of your kindling. You will build from small to large when putting the wood in your stove. The stove should be a bit over two-thirds full. If it is a fireplace that is open, then you will have one to two layers of the wood on the top of your kindling.
  4. If you are sure that the stove had the upward airflow, then light your fire. If you believe that the chimney has since reversed, then you can put a small balled up piece of paper in there and set it on fire. Watch for the smoke to go up the chimney. If the smoke goes up, light your kindling quickly.
  5. Stand away from your burning kindling for a minute and ensure that the fire is getting bigger. If you have a closed stove, keep your draft under control, and your damper opens complete at first. You may even need to keep the door cracked open a little bit to offer air.
  6. The fire should spread pretty fast over the wood. Do not close the air control or your damper as soon as the fire starts. Allow the stove to warm a little bit and establish a bed of coals first.
  7. You can keep your fire going by adding one up to three pieces of wood at a time before the fire is too low.

Other Types of Heating Systems

There are other ways to heat your home or bug out location if you do not want to use a wood-burning stove.

Gasification Boiler: This type of boiler is one that uses wood gasification to heat the home. It happens when your timber or your charcoal is converted into gas. Once the charcoal or wood has been burned, it pushes out the heat to your home. It is extremely energy efficient, and it offers very little ash.

You need to install duct work to pipe it throughout your house.

Fireplace: If you do not want to have a wood stove, then having a fireplace would be another good choice.  A fireplace with a blower to force the warm air out is an added feature that will help warm a greater area. Make sure to open all the doors to the rooms in your house to allow the warm air to enter.

Using a fireplace heat exchanger will decrease the amount of wood you need to use while heating your home. This can be connected to your solar power system so the fan runs off the stored energy in your batteries.

How Much and Types of Woods

If you are really not sure of how to measure your wood storage, we are going to go over it. How often have you heard this term a “cord of wood”? Cord is a measurement used to define a certain amount of wood. Another measurement is a fireplace cord. It is typically one-third of the cord. The measurement of one piece of fireplace wood is normally about 16 inches long. It can measure from 12 up to 24 inches at times. A cord measures to be 4X4 when the wood is stacked. It is best to ensure that you have ten cords. One cord of firewood will provide the same amount of heat as about 200 to 250 gallons of oil. But it depends on the type of wood you are burning.

Here is a list of wood, along with how long it will last when burning. Included is also a rating from 1 (being the worst) up to 5 (being the best).

  • Alder: 1 – This wood will produce very poor heat, and it doesn’t last very long.
  • Apple: 4 – This is a great wood, and it will burn slowly when it is dry. It will produce small flames, and it doesn’t give off any spitting or sparking.
  • Ash: 5 – This is deemed one of the best burning woods by many preppers. It offers a steady burn and has great heat output. It can be burned when it is green, but it is best when it is dry.
  • Beech: 5 – This burns great, but it will not burn when it is green.
  • Birch: 4 – It will offer good heat, but it will burn pretty fast. It can be burned when it is green. The sap does cause some deposits in the flue if you use this wood too much.
  • Cedar: 4 – It is a good burning wood. It offers a consistent heat. It has a long burning time. However, it will spit and crackle. It will cause some deposits.
  • Cherry: 4 – It will offer great heat and burns slow. It will need to be seasoned very well.
  • Chestnut: 1 – This offers very small flames and does not offer much heat.
  • Firs: 2 – This type of wood offers small flames and will only give a small amount of heat. The sap inside will cause deposits.
  • Elm: 3 – This wood will burn in different patterns due to the moisture content. It will need to be tried for at least two years before burning for it to burn well. The logs should be split very early in time before it is stored. When thinking a long-term supply for your BOL, this can be a good wood to have.
  • Eucalyptus: 2 – This wood burns pretty fast. The sap will make deposits and will increase the risks of a fire in the chimney.
  • Hawthorn: 5 – This is wood deemed a traditional type of firewood. It has a great heat output.
  • Hazel: 4 – This is another traditional type of wood for fires in stoves. It will offer a good amount of heat.
  • Holly: 1 – This wood burns very fast, but offers a good flame. The heat the wood gives off is not ideal for heating a BOL.
  • Hornbeam: 4 – This is very similar to the beech. It will burn slow and offers a decent amount of heat.
  • Horse Chestnut: 5 – This is a great wood to burn in stoves; however, it is not a good one for the open type of fires. It does tend to spit. It does offer a great flame and amazing heat output.
  • Laburnum: 1 – Do not use this wood. This is the worst wood to use. It is extremely smoky and does not burn well at all.
  • Larch: 3 – This wood offers a decent amount of heat; however, it will need to be very well seasoned before burning it. The sap from this wood will cause deposits.
  • Laurel: 3 – This wood will burn decent, but only has a small amount of heat output.
  • Lilac: 4 – This is a wood that should be used as kindling. It does offer a good flame.
  • Maple: 4 – This wood is ideal for flame, as well as heat.
  • Oak: 4 – Due to the density of this wood, it offers a small flame and burns slowly. It is better to season this wood for at least two years.
  • Pear: 4 – This has great heat. It does need extra seasoning time to ensure that it is ready to burn.
  • Pine: 4 – You will need to use caution when burning this type of wood. You will have an increased risk of having a chimney fire. It is used mainly for starting the fire and not used much afterward due to the high heat it puts out.
  • Plum: 4 – This is a great wood for stoves. It offers heat and a long burn time.
  • Poplar: 1 – This wood is extremely smoky.
  • Rowan: 5 – This is a great wood. It will burn slow and offer the perfect amount of heat.
  • Robinia (Acacia): 4 – This wood is perfect for stoves. It will offer a long burn time due to burning slowly. It also offers decent heat.
  • Spruce: 2 – This is not recommended to burn. It does not last and burns quickly.
  • Sycamore: 3 – It offers a decent flame; however, it will only offer a moderate amount of heat. It should only be used when it is extremely dry.
  • Sweet Chestnut: 3 – This wood should only be burned using a stove. It spits a lot.
  • Thorn: 5 – This wood is one of the best. It offers a consistent heat and will produce little amounts of smoke.
  • Willow: 1 – Do not use this wood. It will not even produce enough heat even after being seasoned well.
  • Yew: 5 – This wood offers a very slow burn and will give you great heat.

Common Mistakes

Common mistakes are made that even the most seasoned prepper makes when it comes to heating their homes using wood. In this section, we will cover them to ensure that you do not make the same mistakes.

CO Intoxications

Don’t forget to get a CO sensor so you and your family will be safe. When you do not have a fresh supply of air and you are burning fossil fuels CO is created. CO is very dangerous. This gas will bind to the hemoglobin faster than oxygen will, so when you or your family inhaling CO you are starving the vital organs of your body causing them to stop working properly and could result in death.

If you are experiencing really terrible headaches, check you CO levels. Many people become unconscious if the levels of CO are to high and can die in just a few minutes.

Look for the signs of carbon monoxide emission; Black Soot Marks on the walls around the boilers, stoves, fireplaces or smoke that is accumulating in certain rooms that have faulty flues. Make sure your home is equipped with an audible style carbon monoxide alarm and well as your fire alarm to keep you and your family safe.

Not Cleaning or Inspecting the Stove

Prior to burning in the stove, you will need to make sure that the stove and the chimney are actually clean and ready for the wood-burning season. Part of the inspection should be the firebrick lining. You’ll need to make sure that it is in good repair and does not need to be replaced. The brick will reflect the heat. This will keep the body of your stove from becoming overheated.

You will also need to ensure that the chimney is completely clean. You can do it yourself or if you want to, you can hire a professional. Depending on your location, you may want to do it yourself. You do not want to alert others that are not ready if TSHTF to where your retreat is located. This will also keep any chimney fires at bay, and it will aid in the fire burning more efficiently.

If any of the piping leads to the chimney has a sharp turn, you will need to give this part of the piping some attention. When you clean the piping, make sure that you spend extra time on this spot to ensure that it is cleaned properly.

Once you have done the previously mentioned maintenance, then you will need to check the seal on the stove’s door. The seal should be tight to keep any smoke from getting into the home. At times, the seal will need to be replaced. It is a good idea to purchase many seals as back ups in case they are needed once you are using your retreat for the purpose that it is intended.

Not Enough Wood

Running out of wood is definitely a bad misfortune, especially when it is in the middle of winter. It is always better to have way too much than not enough in other circumstances as well, like TEOTWAWKI. Some aspects should be factored into how much wood you will need.

  • Will your family be home the entire day?
  • How big is the retreat or home?
  • How well does the stove work?
  • Is there much insulation in the walls?
  • What kind of wood are you burning in the stove?
  • How hot would you like to have the fires?
  • How many days of the years are you going to be burning fires?

Using a home without proper insulation one of the biggest examples that can be given. It is best to have ten cords of wood by the beginning of winter. This will vary depending on how often you burn the wood. If you believe you will be burning more than just a few months out of the year, then you should aim much higher when collecting the wood. Keep in mind the more wood, the better.

Storing the Wood Improperly

This is a mistake that a lot of new stove owners end up doing. They do not store their wood properly. Once the wood is cut down to size, you will need to split it, and then you will stack it. You will need to ensure that the wood is stored in a dry place. Rain and snow should not touch your wood, as wet wood is never a good thing when trying to heat your retreat. It is best to stack your wood on a pallet. This will allow some airflow to keep your wood dry from moisture. You will also need to keep tarps over it to keep the rain and snow from it.

Not Having Backups

Think about if your wood was taken. What would happen? How would you keep your friends and family warm if TSHTF? Or what if you didn’t have enough wood? You need a backup plan to keep warm. It is a good idea to have old pairs of jeans on hand just in case of an emergency. Here is a list that you can have in reserve just in case your wood supplies is compromised.

  • Old Clothes: As you go through life, your kids and you will out grow or even wear out pairs of jeans and other items of clothing. Keep these. You can roll them into logs and tie them with string to burn them for heat. Keep in mind that if you want them to burn longer, you must roll them tighter. If you would like to get a good collection of them going, hit yard sales, resale shops, and other places that offer old clothes for a small price.
  • Green Wood: If you can get some green wood, you can cut it and burn it. You need to remember that the green wood and bushes will burn much differently than the firewood. It is much harder to get burning as it still contains water. You will need to use a torch and not just a small kindling or a lighter. You also need to know that green wood will put more creosote into the chimney. You need to make sure you are cleaning the chimney often to ensure that you do not have a block in it.
  • Emergency Marked Trees: More than likely your bug out location is in or near a wooded area. Walk this area to pinpoint a few dead trees. These trees need to remain standing so that no one can just freely take them. If you need to have an emergency stash of wood, you will cut down these “marked” trees.
  • Wood Scraps and Furniture: If you have any old or unusable furniture or wood scraping lying around, store it. Both items can be burned in place of traditional firewood.

When it comes to things that burn, just know that you must protect your friends and family from the elements, not just the outside world.

Clutter Around the Stove or Fireplace

Another extremely important safety issue to consider is the space around your wood-burning source. Whether it is a wood stove, fireplace, or Gasification Boiler the area surrounding it should always be keep clean and tidy. Do not allow anything within 3-4 feet of the fire especially anything flamable.

This is imperative to keep the area sweep and free of dust and dirt too. Dust can ignite very easily and float to other areas causing extreme damage.

Screens or Doors

Screens are not just for decoration. They actually have a purpose.  Screens placed on top of the wood stove or fireplace chimney help to keep birds, leaves, and other debris from getting inside your chimney. Fireplace screens block any pieces of glowing embers that might pop out of the fireplace.

The Fireplace screens with doors type will help in case the logs fall forward and start to roll out of the fireplace.

Bonus Tips

In this section, you are given different tips on how to heat, add heat, and other great tips for your retreat or home.

  • Tin Foil: Placing tin foil behind your radiator will keep heat loss down to a minimum. You do not need special foil; an off brand kitchen foil will do the trick.
  • Thick Curtains: Hanging thick curtains over the windows will help protect any heat from escaping.
  • Day Light: Allow the sun to come in through the windows during the daylight hours. The sunlight will heat up the air inside. Shut your curtains during the night.
  • Glaze the Windows: If you have single pane windows, then glazing them will add the double pane effect by keeping the heated air inside.
  • Shut Unused Rooms: If there are rooms that are not used, then you should close those off from the ventilation system. Spreading heat through rooms that are unused will cost you more heat.

Finals Words

Make sure that you know what wood you have before you go to burn it. There are some that should not be used, which are listed above. Ensure that you have kindling stored along with your firewood to make sure that you can start it. Preppers normally keep fire starters in their BOB. Keep in mind there are various ways to build your fire, but using the method described here will offer you a strong start to an even stronger fire.

Remember safety is important too. Stay safe and warm!

The post How to Heat Your House with Wood appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

How to Safely Bug Out from the City

There are different types of disasters that could destroy life as you know it in a city (natural causes, or caused by mankind). The worst thing you can do as a prepper, is not have a plan for the worst-case scenario. If a disaster strikes the city you live in, you’ll want a plan so you won’t have to panic and find a way out when everyone else is doing the same.

Bugging out from inside of a city can be very difficult, especially when the disaster is more serious. There are far more risks involved when you are dealing with a larger population in a more confined area. The risk of being confronted by zombies (the unprepared) increase, as well as the risk of becoming bogged down due to high traffic. Having the right plan can make the difference between getting out within an hour, or within a day.

Different disasters cause different reactions from people in a populated area. Hurricanes are a major cause of mass evacuations in cities along the east coast. When it’s hurricane season, most media organizations give a warning enough in advance to ease some of the anxiety of evacuating. A disaster caused by man, however, can cause severe panic. This leads us into why you should plan ahead to bug out of the city within the first hour.

Timeline

While every disaster is different, causing different reactions from a population, the worst-case scenario generally leads to the same types of reactions from people. Having these reactions broken down into a timeline can help explain why bugging out as quickly as possible is critical to your survival. The sooner you start planning, the better off you and your family will be in case of a disaster. Every hour post-disaster causes more problems for preppers trying to bug out.

Before the Disaster

There are some cases in which you might get a notice before the disaster strikes your city. It’s in your best interest to heed to this information, doing so will allow you to bug out from the city before mass chaos ensues. One example of this, would be if an intercontinental ballistic missile (IBM) is launched and heading towards your location. While the missile is in the air, you will have (minimal) time to bug out away from your city.

In today’s current events around the world, IBMs are a legitimate threat. It’s best to prepare well ahead of time, so that when the time comes to escape your city, you’re well prepared. The article “3 Hours Until S.H.T.F. What You Need to Buy” accurately describes the items that you should concentrate on stockpiling when you have a limited amount of time before disaster strikes your area.

Timing is everything when it comes to bugging out from a city. Certain times are more dangerous than others. If you’re trying to bug out when everyone else is, you’re going to encounter heavier traffic. If possible, try to bug out early in the day. Most people won’t be awake in the early hours. This gives you the upper-hand, giving you more freedom of maneuver when it comes to driving, as there will be less traffic.

One

The first hour after a disaster is the most important hour you, as a prepper, will face. In this hour, you’ll be faced with the decision on how to bug out, where to bug out, and who to bug out with. Route planning can help save you time while you bug out, but routes can change depending on if the disaster was localized to one area as the epicenter. Make sure you have multiple route plans in case a disaster strikes your .

The routes you’ll plan should revolve heavily around which areas will receive the most traffic (such as interstates, or “Main Street/Avenue”). Avoid these areas, as they could be filled with people looking to get out of the city. The more people there are, the more risk you have of running into violence. Make sure you have at least three possible routes to safely bug out from the city once you leave your house. Don’t “wing it” when you bug out, this could lead to you making unnecessary turns, costing you more time.

Have your bug out bag readily accessible, this can help you greatly after SHTF. There’s no need to waste time trying to dig around looking for it, so make sure you have it in an easily accessible spot. Save your family time by designating one area in the house where you’ll keep all of your bug out supplies – this way if you’re preoccupied, you can instruct them to gather the supplies.

Getting your family together after a disaster can be a headache, especially when you have kids in school. To help mitigate the stress that comes with this, make a plan for your family to be able to meet up in case of a disaster. The sooner you make your plan, the better off you’ll be in case the SHTF. For example, if you have kids in , designate an area where you’ll be able to pick them up quickly in case you need to. Make sure you go get your kids (or spouse) before you bug out, as grabbing them while you’re trying to escape can lead to you deviating from your route. Your family is your highest priority, so make sure that’s the first step you take when bugging out from the city.

Six Hours

With every hour that passes after a major disaster occurs, more and more panic will ensue. This will make communication, as well as movement very difficult. When panic strikes a mass population, a majority of that population has an “every man for himself” mentality. There will be major accidents on roadways, pedestrians hit by vehicles trying to flee, or even pedestrians trampled by people (in crowded areas).

Looting will begin happening in areas that have essential supplies, as well as electronics or vanity stores. If you can help it, do not go to stores after a disaster occurs. If you do, you’re subjecting yourself to more risk of injury when people begin looting. If you see looters, don’t confront them. A lot of people will use this time as a time to be lawless.

Violence will start to increase, as people start to embrace lawless mentality. When you combine panic with limited emergency resources, people will begin taking matters into their own hands. Avoid populated areas as best as you can during this time, otherwise you’ll wind up caught in the middle of the .

12 Hours

Supplies will begin to deplete rapidly, both essential and non-essential. If you decide to wait until after a disaster to gather supplies, you are definitely up a creek without a paddle. It will be nearly impossible to gather supplies after a major catastrophe, due to the mass panic, looters, and whatever other conditions of the disaster that present themselves.

The zombies (unprepared) will begin to beg for help. It’s up to you whether or not to trust them.  The issue is you don’t know if they’re just looking to exploit your kindness for your supplies. If you decide to help them, make sure you have people positioned behind them with a weapon in your vehicle in case they decide to try anything.

Ammunition stores will begin to be looted; depending on what the disaster is. This subcategory is if the disaster is due to violence. People will be looking to defend themselves and their families, so don’t wait until after a disaster to supply yourself with ammo. Another risk factor of this scenario is where there’s ammo, there’s guns. There is a risk of it being like the wild west by ammunition stores, due to lawless mentality.

One Day

Trusting any stranger can be deadly at this time as any person in their right mind would have already left the area (if the was due to violence). You also need to take into consideration the type of disaster that you’re faced with. If it’s a storm, or anything caused by nature, people may just be trapped and looking for help. Don’t be selfish, help someone if they genuinely need it.

Many people who are in public areas at this time will have gathering supplies as their main priority. Stay away from them if at all possible, they may try to rob you for yours. Have a plan in case you run into looters, so you don’t panic if you do. Conserve your ammunition, don’t fire warning shots. If you fire your weapon, may it only be in self-defense. Never shoot somebody just because you panicked, and if you do have to shoot somebody, shoot to kill. Shooting to wound somebody is inhumane.

A great article to reference in regards to different timelines of a post-disaster situation is “The Different Stages of a SHTF Scenario”. This article lays out the different stages of how society will be before and after a disaster. This timeline describes how your environment in the city will be up to one day after the disaster, the article I referenced lays out the stages for more of an accurate long-term timeline.

Getting out of the city within 24 hours is the absolute maximum, you should strive to escape before six hours have passed. One day after a disaster, people will gain almost complete lawlessness and this can cause unnecessary risks to you and your family. Never try to shelter in place unless you absolutely must. Sheltering in place leaves you potentially vulnerable to looters, as well as people who will try to exploit your kindness. You don’t want to leave your family’s safety up to somebody else to rescue you.

If You’re Stuck in the City

Let’s say you’re in a situation where you haven’t been able to bug out from the city before 24 hours have passed. There are many factors that could leave you facing this scenario such as; a sick child, blocked roads, or even the fact that it’s too dangerous to bug out yet. No worries, sometimes it is more safe to wait out a disaster than it is to bug out right away. If you find yourself in the situation where you must bug in, make sure you have your house secured. Stay away from windows, as this may leave you exposed to the dangers happening around you.

Make sure you have an alternative source for heat/light. Most disasters we face (or could face) end up resulting in power outages. There are many ways to generate electricity in case this happens, however my favorite item is the “K-tor” manual electricity generator. You can generate up to 10 watts with the hand-crank generator, or 20 watts with the pedal generator. You don’t need electricity to have light, chem-lights (glow sticks) offer a cheap alternative to expensive generators if a backup source of light is all you need.

On the other side of this spectrum, let’s say you’ve already bugged out from your house and you’re on the way to your BOL (Bug Out Location), and your vehicle breaks down. While this may be scary, all is not lost. The worst thing you can do in this situation is panic, you’ve made backup route plans for a reason. At least one of your backup route plans should include if you have to travel on foot.

While this will take a lot longer, it could end up being more safe for you and your family (if it’s chaos on the roads). Once you can, make sure you get as far away from the roads as you can. There will be people trying to escape in a panic, and they might end up hitting you with their vehicle. Once your away from the main roads, navigate your way in the direction of your BOL. If your BOL is too far to travel on foot to, you should navigate yourself to the nearest safe location (friend’s/relative’s house) to spend the night.

If there are no locations near you that are safe, spending a night in the woods is always an alternative. In my article “Foxholes in a Tactical Defense”, I describe how utilizing foxholes can be a great benefit to you if you must spend the night in the woods. Try to stay away from motels/hotels if possible, as these places will attract desperate people who are in your situation. Desperate people are more prone to making irrational decisions involving crime. Be aware of your ever-changing surroundings, new dangers will present themselves at any given moment. If you remain attentive while bugging out, you will have a higher chance of making it out of the city alive.

Communication

There are multiple ways to communicate during a disaster (or post-disaster) other than standard phone calls. If cell towers are still putting out signal, your best way of communicating is with your cell phone – don’t try to revert to other methods unless you absolutely must. Walkie-talkies (two way radios), or other types of radios are a reliable means of communication until the channels receive too much traffic from people.

OPSEC

To remain secretive in your movement, you need to remember to adhere to “OPSEC” (Operational Security). OPSEC means (loosely) to secure sensitive information when discussing something openly. Sensitive information as a prepper may include: routes, supplies, how many people, bug out location, etc.  Never discuss sensitive information openly without using at least one type of cypher.

Cyphers are a way of securing sensitive information by using code-words or other means. While abbreviations can be useful (i.e. “OMW” for “on my way”), they can be decoded easily by someone who’s determined enough. Instead, use code-words (e.g. “books” for “money”). This ensures that only you, and the person you’re communicating with understand what’s being discussed.

Once You Leave

Communication is important throughout your entire expedition, including once you’re out of the city. A missing family member (or a team member) can be incredibly stressful, and the chances of this happening are high due to the frantic nature of a disaster. A great way to help ease the stress of this is completed during your pre-disaster plan. Make sure you lay out your bug out route to everyone that you’re taking with you. Include specific areas that you can meet up at every so many miles in case somebody gets separated from the group.

If it’s safe, try to stop at a gas station (or a rest stop) every so often while you are on your way to your bug out location. Most gas stations and rest stops have maps of the area, allowing you to get a more accurate description of the area you’re facing if you don’t already know. If there’s still somebody attending the gas station or rest stop, ask them if they know of any changing conditions of the roads ahead. This, combined with your new map, will allow you to make any necessary changes to your route that you might need.

Communication is not just summed up by using walkie talkies, it also involves communicating with the local populous every chance you get. They will more than likely tell you what information they know about the ever-changing surroundings post-disaster. They may even provide information that could save you and your family’s life. Never be too proud to ask information from a local.

Arriving at your bug out location doesn’t mean that you are safe just yet, you must make sure that it’s not already occupied. In my article “Advanced Shooting Techniques for when SHTF”, I describe how you can tactically clear your bug out location after you’ve arrived. Never assume an area is safe without clearing it first. Communicate with your team, make sure you don’t group up too close when you’re outside of your bug out location. If it is already occupied by another prepper, they could have traps set up.

Emergency Transmissions

There will be multiple transmissions over the radio explaining the disaster, and where to go to remain safe. Unless you have no means to escape the city, avoid the areas they deem “safe” at all costs. While they might offer safe locations to avoid the disaster, you have to understand that there will be many people who flock to these locations. The more people there are, the more risk there is of violence and theft.

A great thing about these emergency transmission “safe” locations is that they can help you in your route planning (if you haven’t escaped already). Areas around the safe location will be crowded. When planning your route to bug out, avoid the vicinity around the safe area. There will more than likely be increased traffic around these areas, making your extraction time longer than necessary.

Urban Terrain

Urban terrain can be incredibly difficult to navigate if you’re inexperienced. However, there are many different tricks to help make navigating easier. Most cities are laid out like a grid, with different roads dividing city blocks (the area of land between two roads). When looking at a map, you’ll notice that most United States cities are laid out like a grid.

In the United States, most urban areas have streets that run north/south, and APRIL (Avenues, Places, Roads, Isles, and Lanes) running east/west. Knowing this can make navigating urban areas much easier; so if you get lost during your extraction you can look and see if you’re on a street, or APRIL and know what direction you’re heading to get you back on track.

After a catastrophic event, businesses will be riddled with looters. These areas should be avoided as much as possible, otherwise you could wind up caught in the violence and chaos that follows. Zombies (the unprepared) will panic and start looting, so don’t wait until after a disaster to look for supplies. Try to navigate at least a block away from major businesses (more if ).

If you have the resources, have a secondary BOV stationed outside (or near the outskirts) of the city. This way, if roads become too crowded, you can bug out on foot. Many times, in a disaster situation, traffic can become backed up. This is the perfect recipe for accidents, as well as reckless driving. If you have to extract on foot, avoid major roads if possible.

Sheltering in place is only the exception, not the rule. Never shelter in place unless you absolutely must as you are leaving yourself at the mercy of the disaster (and the people around you). In some cases, sheltering in place is the smart way to go (i.e. weather related, nuclear bomb, etc.). When you can, get out of the city as soon as possible.

Problems You May Encounter

There are several problems that you can encounter while you bug out from a city. For every problem, there is also a solution. Remember, you have the advantage as a prepper. Your hobby (or job) is preparing for these types of scenarios, so you have a solid foundation when it comes to an urban disaster. We’ll go over the three most common problems you could face with while you bug out from the city, and how to handle them. Tip – when you are in your planning phase (pre-disaster), include your family when you plan how you will deal with certain problems. This way, if you are injured, they can carry out your plan.

Blocked Roads

Many times, in a disaster situation, urban terrain can become littered with traffic. When you combine traffic with a blocked road, you come up with a huge cluster of panic. If you find yourself trapped on all sides by vehicles and there’s a blocked road ahead, don’t be afraid to use your vehicle as a battering ram to escape the deadly clutches of traffic. Don’t be an idiot though, intentionally causing harm to people is reckless and inhumane.

While you’re driving, make sure the person in your passenger seat has a map. Don’t rely heavily on electronic navigation, in the event of an EMP. If you encounter a road blockage, have your passenger divert you to one of your alternate routes. In a disaster, your chances of encountering a blocked road while you’re leaving the city is high. Make sure you have multiple routes planned to solve the problem if you should encounter it.

Zombies (the Unprepared)

Zombies will be all around you when a disaster strikes. The prepping community is a small one compared to the massive population around us. These people are unprepared, and will be desperate when a disaster strikes.  Desperation, combined with panic, causes people to do unspeakable things (I’ve seen it firsthand). Put yourself in a zombie’s shoes. If you were unprepared, where would you go? Avoid these places, and you’ll decrease your risk of running into them.

When you encounter zombies, do your best to ignore them unless they’re in desperate need of live-saving help. Don’t be that person that drives away if someone needs your help to save their life. If somebody is trapped under a vehicle, stop and help them. This situation refers to the mass population who will be in a panic to escape the area and gather supplies at all costs.

If they become violent, remember you’re more prepared than they are. Use the skills you’ve learned to suppress the threat, including lethal force if necessary. Never use lethal force unless you have a legitimate concern for your life, or your family’s life. There are always consequences for murder, even post-disaster.

Disclaimer: NEVER shoot anyone unless you absolutely must, the disaster you face has more than likely racked up a death toll already. Don’t add to this number just because you’re in a panic, too.

Mass Violence

If you’re on your way to your bug out location, and you encounter an area in the city that is in the midst of a violent breakdown, don’t panic. If you can’t turn around, or you’re trapped in the middle of the chaos, immediately seek a sturdy building. Staying in your car could be more dangerous, as people tend to flip them on their side. Don’t wait for your car to be subjected to violence if you’re trapped, there’s nothing wrong with coming back to it later.

Once you’ve left your car, time is of the upmost importance. Don’t hesitate to look around, immediately secure your family inside of a building and move to the second floor. Moving to the highest floor could make escaping much more difficult in case of a fire. The second floor secures you from the violence happening on the ground, and allows you to jump 10-12 feet to safety in case of a fire on the ground floor.

Do not engage in the violence unless you absolutely must. Engaging somebody that’s involved in the mass-panic violence, will draw attention to you (and your family). Never draw unnecessary attention to yourself, make your group very inconspicuous by immediately fleeing to a safe location. Live to fight another day.

Wrap-Up

Planning is crucial to a timely extraction from the city.  You don’t want to be thinking about where you should go after a disaster strikes. Every hour after a disaster decreases your chances of making it out of the city unharmed. The first hour after a disaster is the most opportune time to bug out (if possible). Most people are still in shock, and won’t be moving much. After the first hour has passed, mass panic will begin, causing your extraction to be more difficult.

Make sure you plan your extraction route around areas that have frequently high traffic. You don’t want to be sitting on a freeway trapped on all sides by other vehicles when time is of the essence. Even though you should avoid highly-populated roads, also try to avoid alleyways. These areas are subject to higher crime, due to their concealment from people.

In short, urban areas can be a headache when trying to bug out after a disaster. However, if you’re prepared ahead of time, you’ll greatly increase your chances of making it out of the city in a timely manner (and alive). Always have at least one backup plan, although it’s best to have two or three. This way if Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) comes to fruition, you have another solid way out.

The post How to Safely Bug Out from the City appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

Uses for Salt Besides Putting It in Your Food

When it comes to sprucing up a bland dinner or adding flavor to homemade pickles, there are few ingredients that can compare with good ol’ fashioned salt. Salt allows food molecules to be released into the air and gives the food a distinct aroma and flavor. It highlights and suppresses the taste of foods, and is a necessary staple for any homesteading chef.

However, did you know that there are multiple uses for salt outside of the kitchen? There are several different types of salt, all of which can serve distinctive purposes.

Table salt is the most common type of salt and is finely ground, containing no trace minerals or impurities. It does not clump and has added iodine, which is necessary to prevent conditions such as hypothyroidism. Sea salt, on the other hand, contains higher quantities of minerals such as zinc, potassium, and iron, making it excellent for cooking and food preservation.

Other types of salt include kosher, Himalayan pink, Celtic sea, flake, and pickling salt. Although there are a vast variety of salts and their uses vary, it’s important to remember that all salt can be given second-life in these multi-purposing tips.

Food Preservation

Increase longevity of foods

Salt acts as a preservative through the process of osmosis. When two chemicals are brought into contact with each other, they reach a situation of equalization. As a result, it can be said that salt helps to dehydrate foods by absorbing or “equalizing” the water contained within the food. This dehydration prevents the food from decomposing,

To preserve your fruits, vegetables, and meat, you must completely cover your food with water and then gradually add salt (until there are salt deposits on the bottom of your container). Store this container—ideally with an airtight seal– in the refrigerator for several days. After this time has elapsed, exchange the old brine for fresh. If you’re dehydrating meat, bake it in the oven at an extremely low temperature.

For short-term preservation, cut fruits and vegetables can also be placed in a salt water solution. The salt helps prevent the pieces from turning brown and losing flavor. This is a great solution if you’re cutting up large quantities of potatoes, apples, or other ingredients for cooking, and need to temporarily prevent them from browning.

Test egg freshness

If you are a homesteader and tend to stockpile large quantities of chicken eggs, this is the tip for you. If you’re not sure how long that carton of eggs has been in your fridge, never fear. Simply place the questionable egg in a cup of water with two teaspoons of salt. If the egg sinks, it’s fresh. If not, it will float (and should definitely be tossed).

For the eggs you plan to keep, there is another use for salt. You can prevent egg shells from breaking during the hard-boiling process by adding a few teaspoons of salt to the boiling water. This will save you time and energy—and also prevent a nasty, stinky mess!

Extend the shelf life of dairy products

As a prepper, it’s important that you maximize the shelf life of all of your supplies—especially hard-to-store dairy products. To preserve cheese, soak a napkin or cloth in saltwater and tightly wrap it around your cheese. This will prolong its shelf life and prevent mold.

You can also add a pinch of salt to a carton of milk. Doing so will allow the milk to stay fresh a week or sometimes more past its expiration date.

Cleaning

Season cast iron

Cast iron pans are fabulous cooking tools for homesteaders, because they add an immense amount of flavor to your food and provide trace quantities of iron. However, since they have the ability to rust when exposed to water, they are difficult to wash.

Salt can save the day! If you have grungy cast iron pan with stubborn remnants of food, simply pour one cup of coarse kosher salt into the warm pan. Scour using a rag (be careful not to burn yourself). Then dump the salt and briefly rinse with hot water. Dry or heat the pan immediately to evaporate the moisture.

Remove odors from wood cutting boards

Been cutting up some stinky salmon on your beautiful wood cutting board? Odors tend to linger for longer periods of time in wood because it can be tougher to sanitize. However, salt can help. Pour an ample amount of salt on your cutting board, then rub with a damp cloth before washing in warm water or with bleach. No more stink!

Eradicate stains and freshen up

Salt is great at removing stains because it is a natural exfoliant. As a result, it can be used to clean hard water stains, dishes, coffee rings, the oven, and even stains from red wine or blood. A salt-water paste applied to a surface is effective at getting out most tough stains.

You can also clean your cleaning supplies with salt. Sponges tend to get gross with multiples uses. Rather than throwing it out and buying more (not a good option for most preppers), soak it in saltwater overnight. When you wring it out the next morning, you’ll think it was a brand new sponge.

Get rid of rust

If your outdoor furniture or fixtures have seen better days, salt can help. Make a paste with six tablespoons of salt and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Ironically, although salt often causes rusting (which you’ll know all about if you live in a northern climate and own a vehicle), this combination can help remove rust stains from most surfaces. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry so that the mixture doesn’t set in and amplify the problem.

Deodorize your clothes

If you live an active lifestyle, as most preppers and homesteaders do, you’ll find that your clothes begin to tell a smelly tale after a period of time. To freshen up your shoes, spray the inside with a salt water solution. This will help eliminate and prevent future odors.

You can also add a few tablespoons of salt to your laundry detergent. Salt is eco-friendlier than most store-bought additives such as OxiClean, and will help keep your clothes fresh and bright while removing any lingering odors.

Wash lettuce

You want your salad to have a crunch—but that crunch shouldn’t be from all the leftover dirt. Lettuce and other leafy greens, such as kale or collards, can be difficult to wash because the irregular shape of their leaves allow dirt to become trapped. If you soak your salad mixture in a water bath with a bit of salt, the salt will help to force away the rest of the dirt.

Safety and First Aid

Stop a grease fire

Grease fires are hard to put out, but are frighteningly common. In fact, cooking fires are the most common cause of house fires in the United States. Don’t rely on a fire extinguisher for small fires—instead, turn to salt.

Salt helps to smother fire as it deprives the flames of oxygen. It won’t make a mess of your grill, barbeque, bonfire, or stovetop, either. It also won’t cause excessive smoke.

Treat Wounds

The main chemical that exists in salt, sodium chloride, acts as a cell dehydrator in most situations. This means that simple cuts and injuries can be treated by applying a saline solution. Because salt forces the liquid in cells to move out of the body, it helps eliminate unwanted bacteria from entering your bloodstream. In essence, this helps to prevent infection and speed up the healing process. Next time you find yourself with a small cut, apply a small amount of salt water (yes, it will hurt!) until the wound is healed.

Disclaimer: The author is not a doctor. Neither the author nor www.SurvivalSullivan.com shall be held responsible for the usage of the information in this article.

Calm inflammation from insect bites and stings

Let’s face it. Insect bites are probably the number one most unpleasant thing about summer months. They itch, make you feel uncomfortable and frankly, make you hate going outside in the first place. Fortunately, salt can help to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by bites or stings from honey bees, wasps, mosquitoes, and other flying critters.

Soak a cloth in saltwater and use it as a compress. This will help to cool your skin and relive the itch. This remedy can also be used for rashes caused by poison ivy, oak, and sumac.

Melt hazardous icy spots

One of the most common—and most old-fashioned—uses for salt is as a de-icer. Salt naturally lowers the freezing point of water and prevents ice from forming on windshields, driveways, and other surfaces. Simply scatter salt wherever you need a surface to be slip-free. Ideally, this should be done before any precipitation, as salting works better as a preventative measure than as a treatment.

You can also de-ice your windshield using salt. To do this, simply soak a sponge in salt water and rub all of your windows down. Let them dry. When your windows get wet during the storm, this will prevent them from freezing.

Medicine

Nasal rinse

If you’re feeling congested or simply want to help prevent a cold, try using a salt nasal rinse. This helps restore moisture and calm down testy mucous membranes inside your sinuses. This is a great home remedy for individuals who suffer from frequent colds or sinus infections.

To make a saline nasal rinse, fill a squeeze bottle with a mixture of salt and water. Tip the bottle into your nose and allow the mixture to drain out of your mouth or through the other side of your nose. This strategy is much cheaper (in essence, free!) and more natural than any medication sold in pharmacies.

Sore throat

Salt doesn’t necessarily prevent or treat the underlying infections or allergies that cause a sore throat, but it does help to draw out mucous. It can help loosen up congestion and limit those nasty sick-time secretions.

Mix a ¼ teaspoon of salt with a cup of water, and then gargle. This will help relieve some of the scratchiness in your throat, as well as pressure and pain.

Gum infections

Salt can also help prevent mucous and inflammation in the mouth that cause oral problems. Gum infections can be treated with a toothpaste made of salt, baking soda, and water. You can also gargle with saltwater to help relieve canker sores and to freshen up your breath after a garlicy meal.

Skin care

As you already know, salt is a great exfoliant. Sea salt scrubs are commonly sold in stores to help remove dead skin cells and refresh tired skin. Salt helps remove odors, rough patches, and calluses from skin. To use, simply mix with water and a few drops of essential oils to create a relaxing, fresh-smelling mix. Salt treatments can help to dry out acne and improve your overall complexion and skin health.

Aches

If your muscles are screaming in agony from all the work you’ve been doing around the homestead, salt can help you take a load off. Fill a bath tub with Epsom salts and hot water, and soak for several minutes a few times a week.

If you don’t have time to lounge in the tub, you can also make a paste of salt and any kind of gel (such as aloe) and apply it directly to your skin for instant relief.

Digestion

Feeling a bit backed up? Before you reach for store-bought cleansers, try sea salt instead. A mixture of salt dissolved in water helps your system effectively push waste through the body. It will release toxins and improve your overall digestion. Pepto who?

Home Improvement/DIY

Make soap

Next time you make homemade soap, consider adding salt. Not only does salt help to slough off dead skin cells and rejuvenate your complexion, it also helps add hardness to a bar of soap. If you find that your homemade soap is finding its way to a goopy mess on the floor than it is to your skin, adding salt could be the way to go.

Fight weeds

If your garden is succumbing to weeds this season, that’s not good news for your wintertime food stores. Attack those cumbersome weeds before they can take control by pouring boiling salt water on them. The hot water will kill the weeds and the salt will prevent their regrowth.

This isn’t a permanent fix, and you must take care not to hit your precious plants, but it is a safe and natural alternative to chemical herbicides. This tip also works well in hard-to-weed areas such as the spaces between patio bricks or blocks. Salt can be dispersed among the bricks to help prevent weeds from popping up and ruining your landscaping.

Prevent ants and other pests

Many species of bugs hate salt. It kills slugs as it dehydrates them and prevents them from completing necessary respiratory processes. Ants, on the other hand, are deterred by salt as they dislike walking on the fine grains.

Sprinkle a line of salt to prevent slugs or ants from entering a specific area, or spray a saltwater mix in a general vicinity. Salt is not toxic to humans or animals, so it’s a safe alternative to Raid and other insecticides on the market.

Scale fish

There’s nothing worse after a productive day on the boat than coming home to a pile full of fish that need to be cleaned. Though this is a necessary byproduct of the enjoyable and sustainable hobby, salt provides a way to speed up the process.

If you soak fish in salt water before you attempt to descale them, you’ll find that the task is much easier. You won’t have to work as hard to peel the scales. Instead, they will fall right off as soon as you touch them.

Pluck chickens

Even if you are lucky enough to own a mechanized chicken plucker machine, pinfeathers remain an unfortunate component of the butchering process. Pinfeathers are the tiny black feather shafts that form on a chicken’s body as the result of new feather growth. They often remain even after the chicken has been plucked and, though not harmful to ingest, give the meat an unsavory appearance.

To remove them quickly, rub the chicken down with salt. The salt dries out the skin and makes it easier to pull out the stubborn pieces.

This list is a mere sample of the countless ways to use salt as a cleaner, preservative, and tool around the house. Start stockpiling salt now! Every time you head to the grocery store, make sure you grab an extra carton. It will never spoil, and will be a valued commodity to you as a prepper or homesteader.

The post Uses for Salt Besides Putting It in Your Food appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

The Best Firearm Attachments

Attachments can help make the use of your firearms a lot easier. From distracting strobe lights, to pinpoint accurate lasers, they help give preppers a “peace of mind” with their weapons. You might be thinking “why spend the extra money on accessories?”. You don’t need a car to get from point A to point B, but it sure makes life easier on you. The same goes for attachments, you don’t need them, but they make operating a firearm easier.

In this article, we’ll discuss the three best firearm attachments for each type of firearm; rifles, handguns, and shotguns. While the types of attachments you can get for your firearm may be limited, the brands are endless. Before we get into the brand breakdown of attachments, let’s go over the most used weapon attachment types.

Rifle (AR / AK Platforms)

  • Red-Dot / Reflex / ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) Sights
  • Vertical Grip / Angled Grip
  • BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sights)
  • Flash Suppressor
  • Extended Bolt Release
  • Muzzle Brakes
  • Extended Rail
  • Tac-Light (Tactical Light)
  • Laser (or Laser/Light combo)
  • Under Barrel Weapon Attachment

The AR / AK platform is arguably the most customizable weapon system in a prepper’s arsenal. A lot of people think of the AR as the AR-15, but there are multiple different ARs that shoot different calibers (such as the AR-10). Some attachments, however, are not as useful as others. Because of this, we’ll break it down into the top five attachments we recommend for AR and AK owners.

ACOG

The ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) is used by military service members around the world (including me). One thing I love about the ACOG, is that most of them don’t use batteries. Instead, their reticle is illuminated by the radioactive decay of tritium (don’t worry, the radiation is safe). The average lifespan of the tritium inside of the ACOG is 10-15 years, which is a great feature because you won’t have to use a single battery!

From a prepper’s standpoint, this makes the ACOG a great asset, because you won’t need to fetch new batteries for your optic. In case of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse), your ACOG will still work, because it doesn’t rely on electrical wiring used by most attachable sights. This is another reason why an ACOG should be on your “most wanted” list for your AR / AK.

The brand I recommend for ACOGs, is the same brand I have on my M4A1 carbine that I use as an Infantryman. “Trijicon” is by far the most popular ACOG brand on the market. They even have a contract with the U.S. Government, supplying agencies and military branches such as the U.S. Army, and the United States Marine Corps. There’s a reason why Infantrymen love ACOGs, because they’re durable and they work.

I remember one time, I had fallen down a 15 foot drop off at night (because military night vision optics have terrible depth-perception) and my M4 sling had come off me, causing my M4 to smash against a large boulder. After recovering it, my M4 still worked, and my Trijicon ACOG kept its zero. While all Trijicon models vary in shapes, sizes, and reticle shapes, all of them are recommended for your consideration.

The one that I’m personally familiar with is the TA11-D-100291. The average price for this model is $1,600, making it pretty expensive for an optic on your rifle. There are other models that are less expensive on their website, but if you want a quality optic that you can rely on for years, Trijicon is your answer. This model offers a vertical BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) that is effective up to 800m (2,624ft.) with a chevron above it. BDCs are extremely useful in combat, because you don’t have to adjust your elevation dial (AKA “dope”) to accurately engage your targets.

BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sights)

BUIS are very important for your rifle, if you plan on attaching an aftermarket optic. In reference to the ACOG above, BUIS offer a short to mid-range solution to accurately engage targets, while your ACOG is used for mid to long-range engagements. Obviously, you won’t need batteries for your BUIS, so this is also a bonus for preppers. The less electricity you depend on when you bug out, the better.

I use BUIS on my M4, and I recommend that if anyone attaches an optic on their AR / AK rifle, they do the same. If an EMP detonates, and you’re using an optic that relies on electronic wiring (EOTech Reflex sights for example), your optic is useless. Then, you’ll have an overly expensive paperweight. It’s not recommended to use a battery-operated optic, however if you decide to, make sure you have BUIS.

There are many places that you can attach BUIS on your rifle, I personally recommend mounting the Magpul 45-degree BUIS. This way, you may engage your targets at long range, and simply rotate your rifle 45-degrees to engage short to mid-range targets. BUIS are only as good as their zero, however, so make sure when you mount them you zero them accordingly. A good distance to zero your BUIS to is 200m (656ft.). This is so you can engage targets at a longer range if your optic gets damaged.

Orion LED Tactical Flashlight with Rifle Mount

Tac-Light (Tactical Light)

Tac-lights are very useful, for indoor use as well as outdoor use. Indoor use, however, is where you’ll see the most benefit with them. When you’re clearing a room in the dark, a bright enough light can temporarily blind your enemy while you aim at them. This can give you the upper-hand, because for a brief moment, your enemy is too disoriented to accurately engage you.

Many people think that tac-lights with strobe capabilities are the only tac-lights you should buy. While they do have their advantages (such as an added blinding effect), they’re more of a luxury than a necessity. A major disadvantage of a strobe light is the fact that you have to worry about accidentally toggling it on when you’re simply trying to use a regular light. This can cause an unnecessary nuisance, while costing you extra money for this feature. There are some strobe lights that cost less than regular lights. However, be careful, you get what quality you pay for.

A great tac-light that I recommend, is the Orion H40-W 500 Lumen LED. 500 lumens are more than bright enough to disorient your enemy within 15 feet, which is usually how close you are to your target in a room. A great feature of this tac-light is that it comes with a pressure switch, giving you more control while using it in a fast-paced environment. While you can mount your pressure switch directly on your rail system, I recommend mounting it on your aftermarket grip attachment.

Vertical Grip / Angled Grip

Grip attachments add a great amount of control for your rifle, giving you a different way of handling your rifle to best fit your shooting needs. Not everyone likes them, and that’s okay. For most people, however, a grip attachment can add more comfortability for shooting. An option for configuring your grip, is attaching the grip closer to your magazine well for CQC (Close Quarters Combat), and using the rail itself for long-ranged engagements.

When battling in close quarters, there are many ways to go about how you configure your support hand. Some shooters preach that you should never have your support hand close to the magazine well, while others swear that it adds more control. In my experience, I believe that it’s shooter’s preference where you put your support hand (although I don’t recommend using your magazine well as a grip).

If the purpose of your rifle is for mainly close to medium range engagements, I recommend the Magpul Rail Vertical Grip. Vertical grips offer you the ability to control the rifle with your palm facing horizontal rather than vertical. The advantage of this, is a faster reaction time when you need to change targets quickly. This is the same grip I have on my M4, and it’s proven to be very durable for the years I’ve used it (haven’t had to replace it yet).

On the opposite end, if you expect more of your engagements to be at a longer range and you don’t want to use a bipod, I recommend the Magpul Angled Fore Grip. The best feature of angled grips, is their ability to maintain a “vertical palm” grip, while adding comfortability. For long-distance shooting with an assault rifle, it’s recommended that you use a vertical palm grip with your support hand as far forward on the rail as you can comfortably. This allows you more stability while pulling the rifle into your shoulder.

Muzzle Brakes

Most rifles you buy will already come with a muzzle brake from the manufacturer. However, buying an aftermarket muzzle brake allows you to have more control over your recoil. Door breach muzzle brakes offer another way to incapacitate your enemies, as well as breaching capabilities while protecting your muzzle. Without a muzzle brake, putting your barrel up to a door to breach it can cause damage to the tip of it.

An effective way of incapacitating enemies at close range is called a “muzzle thump”. This method utilizes your muzzle brake to strike your enemy with your barrel like a spear. Using a muzzle thump is a very useful technique when an enemy appears unexpectedly in front of you. When you strike your enemy with your barrel, you’re delivering a powerful blow that can cause extreme pain, and can still fire your weapon shortly after without having to lay a hand on them.

With a door breaching muzzle brake attached, a muzzle thump to your enemy can kill them without having to fire a single round. This is due to the “teeth” on the end, although they’re made to embed in a doorway before breaching. For this attachment, I recommend looking at buying the SHREWD – AR-15 #5 Muzzle Brake. Shrewd has been my go-to for muzzle brakes since my enthusiasm for rifles began (don’t worry, they make them for AK models too).

With a reduced recoil, as well as an added physical impact effect, muzzle brakes are well worth their investment. They can be expensive, but you don’t have to buy an aftermarket muzzle brake if you don’t want to. If your rifle doesn’t come with one (which is rare), I highly suggest you get one yourself.

AR / AK Conclusion

ARs and AKs are two very different rifle platforms, but that doesn’t mean that the attachments are. Most attachments are made to be used on a picatinny rail system, which are offered on both AR and AK models alike. Make sure if you’re shopping for your AK, you adjust the size of the caliber to 7.62 and not the .223 (or 5.56) caliber of the AR models. Whatever attachments (if any) you decide to use for your rifle, make sure that they fit your specific needs.

While your uses for assault rifles change, so must your attachments. If you’re going to be in the wilderness most of the time, a tac-light might not be as much of a use for you as it would in an urban environment (although they can be useful at night anywhere). Don’t be “tacticool” when it comes to attachments. Remember, the more attachments you have, the more weight you’ll have to carry around.

Another factor to consider when looking to add on to your collection of attachments for your rifle is your magazines. I’ve found that Magpul PMAGs are incredibly reliable, as well as durable for a high-stress environment. For added assistance, the Magpul Mag Assist enhancement fits on the end of your magazine, so when they are face-down in your kit you can pull them out easier. In a firefight, your hands get sweaty from the nerves, making it difficult to reach for a new one. Any attachment that helps you in a firefight is your friend, do yourself a favor and invest in them.

Slings are also a great add-on for your rifle, making it easier to keep accountability of your weapon when SHTF and you need to transition to use both of your hands. I recommend using a two-point sling (I like the S2Delta), because you can transition from your rifle, to just your hands with a pull of a cord. Once you pull the cord, the weapon is tight on your body, keeping you accountable for it so nobody can grab it from you. To transition back to your rifle, simply pull another cord (read the simple instructions to learn how to use it). They’re very simple, and effective to use.

Rifle (Sniper / Hunting Platform)

  • Bipod
  • Range Finder
  • Bullet Sleeve
  • Recoil Pad
  • Cheek Rest

While there’s not as many popular attachments for a hunting/sniper rifle as there are for its assault rifle counterparts, attachments can make your long-range shots a lot more comfortable. I preach that it’s not the hammer that puts in the nail, it’s the person swinging the hammer. While this is very true, any added comfortability (or compatibility) to your rifle can increase your accuracy for long-distance engagements.

CVLIFE 6- 9 Inches Tactical Rifle Bipod

Bipod

While not absolutely needed, the bipod adds a lot of stability to your rifle. I don’t have to tell you why you should get a bipod, but I will tell you not to go cheap when buying one. A spring-loaded bipod is a great option for preppers, because it requires minimal set up. When looking for a spring-loaded bipod, shop for quality, not price.

Nothing can be more frustrating when you’re moving through thick brush with your rifle, and your bipod springs open, causing your rifle to snag on vines (I speak from experience). A lot of your time with a hunting/sniper rifle will be walking through the woods, so take into consideration how heavy the bipod is as well. Any added weight will easily be noticed when you’re walking for hours.

A brand that I’ve learned to trust after years of use, is Harris. For my long-range engagements, as well as trekking through the woods, I have had very little issues with Harris bipods. In my line of work, we aren’t exactly gentle with our equipment. If Harris bipods can withstand the rigorous trials that I’ve put them through in my line of work, they’re sure to withstand whatever you throw at them as a prepper.

Bullet Sleeve Cheek Rest Combo

Bullet Sleeve / Cheek Rest Combo

Most of your engagements with a hunting/sniper rifle will be with your cheek glued to your buttstock. If you find yourself running low on full magazines, it can be tedious to have to dig in your BOB (or pockets) to retrieve more rounds. A bullet sleeve slides onto your buttstock, allowing you to access more rounds with ease if you need to without having to step away from your rifle.

When your cheek rests on your buttstock for a long period of time, it can become quite sore (or even bruise in my case), making it difficult to comfortably deliver rounds down range. For this reason, I bought the GVN Portable Adjustable Tactical Buttstock Shell Holder Cheek Rest. The only downside about the one I had purchased, is the smell it retains after sweating on it. Other than that, it’s done its job just fine for me and I’m sure it will for you as well.

Cheek rests can also play an important role in eye-relief (how far your eye should be off your scope), making it more comfortable to place your cheek in the right position. With the combination of the bullet sleeve, along with a cheek rest, the GVN is a great deal for preppers. Any added comfortability can make a huge difference when your cheek is glued to your buttstock for hours on end.

LimbSaver AirTech Slip-On Recoil Pad

Recoil Pad

When you shoot an upwards of 20-30 rounds per day for multiple days on end through a high-caliber rifle, recoil pads are a great luxury. Recoil pads are a slip-on attachment that you add to the end of your buttstock on your rifle, reducing the recoil felt in your shoulder pocket when shooting. There are many different brands of recoil pads, many of which are great. However, I don’t recommend using a gel-filled one as a prepper. Any puncture or tear in the pad will take away its cushioning, rendering it useless.

Most synthetic buttstocks have a cushion already embedded into them, but they aren’t enough protection for avid shooters. If you shoot more than 50 rounds through your rifle at the range every time you practice, recoil pads are more than worth their investment. The only downside I’ve found with them, is you need to compensate for your eye relief because your scope will be about an inch further from your eye than it would be without the pad.

Throughout my time shooting high-caliber rifles, I’ve grown to love my  LimbSaver AirTech Slip-On Recoil Pad. The added cushioning has definitely saved my shoulder from the trauma associated with shooting. I bought one back in 2015, and I haven’t had to replace it yet. I’ve become very impressed with its durability and comfortability, and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you.

Hunting/Sniper Rifle Conclusion

Hunting/sniper rifles are a prepper’s best friend, especially when bugging out into the wilderness. Most rifles cost a good amount of money, so some people might be hesitant to spend more to get attachments and accessories. Let’s face it though, spending a few extra dollars to be a lot more comfortable shooting your rifle seems self-explanatory.

Shotguns (Tactical Platform)

  • Tac-Light
  • Pump-Action Grip
  • Bandolier Belt
  • Mounted Shell Carrier
  • Muzzle Brake
  • Aftermarket Sights

Shotguns are a great choice of firearm for home defense, though you might destroy your house shooting at an intruder. I won’t include hunting shotguns for this category, because if you’re going to add attachments to a shotgun, you’ll more than likely purchase a tactical one. Tactical shotguns have many uses, but CQC (Close Quarters Combat) is the most frequent reason why they’re used.

Pump-Action Grip

When using a pump-action shotgun, it can become tiresome to continue to pump rounds with your palm facing upwards. With a pump action grip, your palm faces sideways, making it a more natural position to push and pull from. With most defensive and offensive scenarios using a shotgun, you’ll be firing multiple rounds in a rapid succession. Any attachment that can ease the use of your shotgun can help you when fatigue sets in.

Based off of user reviews, the TACSTAR Shotgun Tactical Grip has proven to be a fan-favorite. Users have said that they’re a durable, reliable, and comfortable aftermarket grip for their pump-actions. As a prepper, shotguns are a great tool for a defensive position due to their area of effectiveness per shell. If you decide to use a shotgun, I recommend looking into a grip as well.

Tourbon 24-round bandolier belt

Bandolier Belt

While a bandolier belt isn’t exactly an attachment, this accessory is highly recommended for use if you have a shotgun. Due to the inaccuracy of a shotgun at greater distances, the chances of you using a lot of shells are high. Because of this, a bandolier belt is highly recommended. Digging in your pockets, or BOB can be difficult in a high-stress situation. With a bandolier belt, you have access to as many as 30 rounds or more.

I personally love the Tourbon 24-round bandolier belt, as it was my first belt (I bought over eight years ago), and I still use it today for hunting. A great feature of the Tourbon belt, is its wide design. Most belts are narrow, wide enough only for the stitching to hold the shells in place. The Tourbon’s wider belt offers more comfortability, and durability when used for a long period of time.

Its two extra pockets located toward the buckle, and long zipper pocket located along the length of the belt on top, offer added storage capacity for various items you might need to access quickly. The zipper above the belt is also a great storage space for items you want to conceal, like small pieces of paper with sensitive information on them (such as locations, times of attack or movement, and number of people in your bug out location).

Tactical Shotguns are a great option for defending your home, or bug out location. Although not all of the possible attachments were named, the ones that were are the ones that are the best suit for your shotgun needs.

Also, just because not all of the attachments in the list didn’t make the top two, doesn’t mean they aren’t great attachments. It simply means that the top two are more practical for saving money, and usage for your shotgun. Whatever you decide to attach to your shotgun is your preference, just don’t spend too much time worrying about what looks cool. Worry about what works, and what has proven to be durable.

Handguns (Semi-Auto)

  • Tac-Light
  • Laser
  • Aftermarket Sights
  • Grip Sleeve

Semi-Auto handguns have become more and more popular in the civilian sector since WWII (although they’ve been around earlier than that), and for a good reason. Most of them are reliable, and have a higher ammunition capacity than its revolver counterpart. Semi-auto handguns are far more compatible with attachments than revolvers, but that doesn’t mean you need every attachment on the market for them.

Streamlight TLR-4 Tac Light with Laser

Tac-Light / Laser Combo

In the above segments, I described the uses for a tac-light in CQC (Close Quarters Combat) engagements. For handguns, however, tac-lights play an even more important role. Most (if not all) of your engagements with a handgun will be close-quarters, making the need for a tac-light capable of illuminating your target and disorienting them much higher.

Lasers can greatly increase your target acquisition at close range, making CQC engagements much easier for you while you’re under stress. Most preppers don’t have much real-life experience in firefights, so when they experience their first one, adrenaline can make you miss an easy shot from a close distance. Any assistance with finding your target can mean the difference between life and death, so choose wisely.

I personally love the Streamlight TLR-4 Tac Light with Laser, because of its capability to switch between the two while remaining ambidextrous. If I get shot in my dominant arm and have to switch to my non-dominant one, I feel more at ease knowing that I can still use my light/laser combo as I would with my dominant hand. Also, the laser holds its zero very well, even when it’s only hand-tightened. This is a great feature for when SHTF, because if your weapon falls on the ground and your laser gets detached, you can quickly hand-tighten it back on your handgun and continue firing later without worrying if you zero is lost.

GVN Tactical Rubber Grip Glove Sleeve

Grip Sleeve

Grip sleeves add a more comfortable feel to your handgun, which can make a big difference with accuracy. While relatively cheap, most grip sleeves are durable and lightweight. This makes them a great attachment a prepper’s handgun, because most preppers spend their money on bug out tools and have little more to spend on weapon attachments.

A grip sleeve can also help you handle your weapon when your hands (or gloves) are slippery because of dirt, water, or a combination of the two. Think of it as tire, you could technically drive with bald tires, but a tire with more grip makes a big difference in handling. The type of grip sleeve you get depends on your hand size and style, but a great brand for grip sleeves is GVN.

My personal favorite is the GVN Tactical Rubber Grip Sleeve, due to its light-weight design, and finger mold. For my finger size, the molding of the sleeve seems to hug them, which makes it so much more comfortable to squeeze and shoot with. With grip sleeves, however, it all depends on your hand size and shape. Give GVN a look, they tend to have the best selection for people with all shapes and sizes of hands.

Handgun Conclusion

I didn’t include revolvers on my article for attachments for one reason, there’s really not a lot of attachments worth spending money on for a revolver. Most attachments you’ll find for revolvers are usually cheap knock-offs that will stop working (or break) after a short period of time. My advice is not to spend a lot of money (or time) looking for attachments for your revolvers.

Semi-auto handguns have a variety of options for attachments. You don’t need them to make your handgun do what it’s intended to do, but some attachments will make the work much easier. Extended magazines are also an option for semi-auto handguns, but make sure you get a magazine compatible with the weapon you’ll use it for. Always shop for quality, not just for price.

Wrap-Up

Attachments and accessories are a great investment if you want the added luxury to help you with your self-defense needs. The biggest factor you should watch for when you’re looking at getting a new attachment for your weapon, is the reviews that follow it. I’ve learned from experience not to buy something for your weapon just because it looks cool and it’s cheap. If it looks too good to be true, most of the time it is.

Don’t be “tacticool”, and go buy all the attachments that you can fit on your weapon. First, you’ll be laughed off the shooting range when you go practice by the veterans. Second, you’ll regret doing so when you need to carry all the added weight for miles. When looking for attachments that run on batteries, try to look for the ones that use AA or AAA batteries. The more common the battery, the more chances you’ll have at replacing them when SHTF and looters clean out store shelves.

The best attachment you can get for your weapon, is the one (or many) attachments that best suit you to be able to engage your enemy with ease. Try not to spend too much on them, however, because the money could be used to stockpile on more weapons (or ammunition). Remember, it’s always shooter’s preference. This article is simply to guide you in the right direction when you’re looking for your next (or first) attachment for your weapon.

The post The Best Firearm Attachments appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

24 Things to Stockpile for the Next Hurricane

Hurricane season is upon us. So far, it is looking to be one of the worst in the books, with Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria destroying various parts of the United States.

If you happen to live in an area with a hurricane risk, now is the time to consider what to stockpile for the next hurricane. There will always be a next, and you can never be sure that damage it will cause. All categories of hurricanes can cause damage to structures and power lines. The time to prepare isn’t the days leading up to landfall; it is the time before the hurricane even forms.

Bugging In vs. Bugging Out

The very first question you should ask yourself when faced with a hurricane is whether or not you should bug out. While some people might say the answer should be an immediate yes, the answer ultimately depends on where you live, the terrain around you and the hurricane coming your way.

For example, if we look at Hurricane Harvey, there are thousands of people who weren’t affected too much. Their homes were set up higher and weren’t at risk for flooding. You should also think back over the years. If you live in what they call a “100-year-flood-zone,” then chances are you will flood again during the next major hurricane.

Even if you live in an area that you assume will allow you to bug in, I suggest you keep a plan to bug out. Take a look at Hurricane Irma. At first, experts believed it would strike the east coast. Instead, Irma made landfall along the west coast. Hurricanes are unpredictable. You should have a plan to bug out if it looks like predictions will change against your favor.

Related: Hurricane Preparedness 101

24 Things to Stockpile for the Next Hurricane

  1. Water: As with almost any disaster, water should top your list of things to stockpile. While the area might be swimming in water, it isn’t safe to drink. Waterlines can break, leaving your house without tap water. You should have water on hand. The recommendation is one gallon per day per person. If you have a five-person household, you will need five gallons along with an extra gallon for each pet such as a dog. Most officials recommend having a three-day supply of water, but it isn’t possible to have too much water stored.
  2. Water Purifiers: Another great thing to have, especially if you are bugging out, is a way to purify water. You can pick water purification tablets or a purifying drinking straw. These should always be in your bug out bag!
  3. Flashlights with Extra Batteries: There is a good chance your power will go out, at least for a few days. However, we can see the extreme side of that if we look at the destruction in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico is facing weeks or months without power. It is a good idea to stockpile flashlights with a lot of extra batteries.
  4. A Generator: Don’t wait for a hurricane to be coming your way before you buy a generator. They sell like hotcakes and often at a higher price tag. A generator is perfect for the next hurricane or even at random times when the power goes out. If anything, having a generator allows you to keep your refrigerator and freezer running, so you don’t lose all of those perishable items.
  5. Fuel: Your generator doesn’t run on air and love. It needs fuel and lots of it. You have no way of knowing how long the power will be out, so stockpile as much fuel as you can safely. A stockpile of fuel also comes in handy if you decide to bug out. Gas stations will have long lines, and you will spend hours on the highway in traffic. Fuel will save you time.
  6. Battery Powered Radio: You can also find a solar powered radio. Either way, a radio connects you to the outside world and gives you updates about the current situation.
  7. Non-Perishable Food: Canned food is great if you plan to bug It won’t be that great of a choice if you plan to bug out. I would recommend having a selection of both. Here are some ideas.
  • Canned soup
  • Canned meat such as tuna, salmon, chicken or beef
  • Canned vegetables
  • Granola bars
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Powdered milk
  • Cereal
  • Protein bars and protein powder
  • Peanut butter (and jelly)
  • Applesauce and fruit cups (or cans)
  1. A Way to Cook Food: Once the power goes out, how do you plan to cook food? You could grill if your backyard isn’t flooding and it isn’t pouring rain. Another great choice is a propane grill. Most are small enough to fit right on a table top. You can pack them into your car since they fold. You need to bring along several small propane tanks as well. If you bug out, remember a few cooking utensils.
  2. Baby Supplies: You only have to think about this if you have a baby. You should have diapers on hand. While we use cloth diapers typically, disposable diapers could be an easier choice, especially for those bugging out. You also need feeding supplies, such as formula and bottles, if you don’t breastfeed. Keep a few outfits in a sealed Ziploc baggie as well. Babies must stay warm and dry.
  3. First Aid Kit: A first aid kit should always be on your list for disasters. You never know what you might encounter. While it is unlikely that you will be in the middle of the hurricane outside, you will be outside fixing up afterward. All it takes is for you to fall! So, have a heavily stocked first aid kit. The hospitals will be filled with people in need of medical attention.
  4. Medication: Medications go along with a first aid kit, but you should make sure you have extra of your prescription medications on hand. A stockpile should also include pain relievers, antihistamines, anti-diarrheal, and other important medications. When going to the store isn’t an option, you will be happy to have these on hand.
  5. Toiletries: You will still need to brush your teeth, wipe down your body and put on deodorant. It may be insane outside, but who wants to stink? Hygiene is important, especially during a disaster. You also want to make sure you have a lot of toilet paper, even if you decide to bug out!
  6. Insect Repellant: Hurricanes can bring out bugs afterward. The temperatures tend to be hot. All of the water creates moisture and humidity, the perfect recipe for bugs. Unless you enjoy bugs munching on you for dinner, invest in a bottle or two of insect repellant.
  7. Cleaning Supplies: Chances are your home will experience some level of damage. If not, you are in luck. However, you should keep cleaning supplies on hand. During a disaster, it is especially important to keep your area clean. Infections and bacteria spread rapidly. Remember to have a box or two of large, black trash bags to clean up wet materials.
  8. Rain Gear: If for whatever reason, you get caught in the rain, you will need some rain gear. It is a good idea to have a poncho or two for each family member, along with rain boots.
  9. Solar Phone Charger: Your cell phone also allows you to contact first responders if you need help. Cell phone batteries die quickly, so it is great if you have a phone charger battery and a solar phone charger on hand.
  10. Manual Can Opener: This is something you don’t want to forget! It would be horrible to have a stockpile of great canned goods, only to realize you can’t open them! Make sure you have a manual can opener (or three) on hand.
  11. Disposable Items: During and after a hurricane, the last thing you need to worry about is being environmentally friendly. You probably won’t have access to hot water, so keep a few things on hand. Remember, it is important to decrease bacteria.
  • Paper or Styrofoam plates
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Plastic Flatware
  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  1. Lighters and Matches: If you have a gas stove, you will need a lighter or match to ignite it. While candles are typically not recommended as a safe light source, you may opt to burn some tea lights because they are rather inexpensive. Lighters and matches are always a good idea to keep on hand!
  2. Tools and Supplies: More than likely, your house will face some damage. Along with the cleaning supplies listed above, you want to have some tools on hand. Ideally, you will have screws, screwdrivers (powered and manual), duct tape, plywood, tarps, nails, and hammers. A chainsaw and extra chains is a vital tool, especially if you have trees on your property. An ax allows you to escape from your house if necessary.

 

Related: Recovering from a Hurricane

  1. Things to Do: A hurricane can last for a day or two, depending on the severity. Then, if there is flooding in the area, you could be stuck inside even longer. If power is out, chances are you want some things to do, especially if you have kids. Keep a stock of magazines, books, board games, cards, puzzles, crafts, and handicrafts to stay entertained.
  2. Cash: Whether you bug in or out, you need cash on hand. Cash allows you to bug out easier. If you decide to bug out and power is out, stores may only accept cash for a few days until the power returns. It is also smart to have some cash on your body in a variety of bills.
  3. Blankets: Hurricanes hit when it is usually still warm outside. The presence of an abundance of water can make the temperature feel cooler. If you or a family member is wet, you need dry blankets to stay warm, especially kids and babies.
  4. Firearms: The last thing to add to your stockpile is a firearm and ammunition. While, in most circumstances, a hurricane won’t leave you stranded for weeks, we can’t predict the future. The unprepared can and eventually do come after those who are prepared. Having a firearm available makes everyone in your house feel a bit safer. Be sure to keep it far away from little hands.

You will want to keep your stockpiled items in a water-tight container, such as a five-gallon bucket with a lid. This step is very important if you live in a flood zone. The last thing you want to experience is all of your hard work being lost in a flood. Also, you should always have copies of all your important documents stored in an airtight bag as well! That step is vital. Ultimately, being prepared far ahead of an incoming hurricane will make your life easier when the warnings arrive.

The post 24 Things to Stockpile for the Next Hurricane appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

Survival Altoids Kits: Yay or Nay?

The Altoid brand of breath mints was created in the late 1700’s by Smith & Company, a London based company. The mints, which are today one of the most popular brand of breath mints, were initially created as peppermint lozenges to alleviate stomach aches and discomfort. The brand changed hands several times becoming a Callard & Bowser name in the 19th century, which was eventually purchased by Wrigley in 2004.

Originally created and packaged in cardboard, the company switched to the metal tins in the 1920’s to improve the shelf life of the mints. Some of us may have even had a grandparent who carried an Altoid Tin, recycled into a sewing or fishing kit.

If you’re a prepper, you’ve no doubt heard about Altoid Survival kits, sometimes referred to as BOATS (bug out Altoid tins). There are an unlimited number of different ideas to reuse Altoid tins and we’ll cover many of those in this article. We’ll also cover some of the ways that you can modify or alter Altoid tins to create survival items.

Altoid Tins Original Use

Gen Xers and Baby Boomers know what Altoid are because they remember being given these breath mints at some point by a grandparent or a mischievous uncle who wanted to see the reaction to its uncommonly strong taste. The mints were marketed as the “curiously strong” and adults still get quite a kick out of giving one to kids or even other unsuspecting adults and watching their reaction to the strong flavor. As the brand expanded its product line to include products in addition to mints, including chocolate and gum, new tins were manufactured to package the products.

Different Sizes of Altoid Tins

One of the first things to know about Altoid Tins if you’re going to reuse them for survival kits of any kind is that they come in a variety of different sizes and shapes. The most common sizes are the Original tin, the Smalls, and the Mini tins which held the mints, but I’ve seen them circular and even heart-shaped too.

  • Altoid Original (Large) is 3 7/8” Long X 2 3/8” wide X 7/8” deep
  • Altoid Smalls (Medium) is 2 1/16” X 1 5/16” wide. It is 2 3/16” from corner to corner.
  • Altoid Minis (Tiny) aren’t used too often for survival kits but they can be helpful to organize tiny items such as loose pills, seasonings, or other tiny items.

Ways to Reuse an Altoid Tin

For those of us who were raised by Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, reusing an Altoid Tin is just one of the ways to honor our parents or grandparents who admonished us not to buy new unless we had used it all, couldn’t live without it, or had worn it out completely.

Those who lived through the Great Depression learned how to use every last bit of something and then still find a way to reuse the container. Many of them passed this penchant for reuse and recycling on to their children and grandchildren. The Altoid tins are sturdy and close tight every time which makes them an extremely useful and reliable container for a wide variety of items.

First Aid Kit

It’s always a good idea to have a mini first aid kit in your pocket to handle life’s little emergencies as well as to temporarily help with any larger issues that may come up unexpectedly. The original Altoid tin makes the perfect container for a pocket sized first aid kit that can go with you anywhere. It fits in a back pocket or a jacket pocket or can be tossed in the bottom of your purse with everything else and hold up to the wear and tear of rattling around every day.

  • Band-aids of various sizes
  • Single dose pain reliever
  • “Straw” tubes or sample tubes of Neosporin, sun screen, cortisone cream, etc.
  • Cough drops
  • Mini nail clippers
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Iodine tablets
  • Cotton Swab
  • Super Glue
  • Moleskin bandage
  • Butterfly bandage

Sewing Kit

The Altoid tin makes a great container for a mini sewing kit. Be prepared the next time you are at a school play, at work, on a hike or at the beach and need to fix a strap, replace a button, or mend a tear in a swimsuit. And in a real emergency, a sewing kit can come in handy for stitching wounds or repairing a leaky tent.

  • Pre-threaded needles
  • Safety pins
  • Buttons
  • Thread or Seam Puller
  • Thimble
  • Thread
  • Small scissors

Mini Games

Before we had smart phones, boredom was a major threat while waiting for an appointment, in a long drive-thru line, or any other time we had to simply “wait”. People and especially children, have become so used to constant entertainment that during a power outage or other emergency where a long-term bug-in is needed, boredom will be quick to rear its ugly head. Stay ahead of boredom and keep morale high by being prepared with these mini games in Altoid tins.

Fire Starting Kit

Everyone knows how critical being able to start a fire can be to survival in a wide variety of situations. Whether it’s simply an unplanned stay overnight in the woods or a longer-term survival situation, you’ll be glad to have the materials needed to get a fire roaring.

  • Rubber band a full-size lighter to the outside of the tin or use a mini lighter
  • Vaseline soaked cotton balls or dryer lint
  • Windproof/Waterproof matches
  • Wax Candle
  • Fire steel and striker
  • Razor blade (tape to inside of lid)

Fix-It Kit

When you lose a screw from your eyeglasses, accidentally drop your phone, lose a heel on your shoe, or need to mend a fence or reinforce windows against a storm, you’ll be glad to have some of these items on hand. You’ll remind your friends of MacGyver, if you can’t fix it with one of these items no one can.

  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape
  • Mini screwdriver
  • Electrical tape
  • Mini multi-tool

School Kit

If you’re a parent of a child that is organizationally challenged, an Altoid tin school kit in the bottom of their bookbag can really come in handy. Put these items together, throw the kit into their school bag and when they call you because they need something, remind them of the kit. It will save you a trip to the school and keep your child on track for the day.

  • Eraser
  • Half pencil
  • Paper clips
  • Small scissors
  • Spare lunch money
  • Dental floss and wisp on the go toothbrush
  • Binder clip
  • Mini stapler

City Survival Kit

When it comes to survival, those who reside in the city have slightly different needs in an emergency than those who live in rural areas. In the city, you’re more likely to have your purse stolen or be stuck in traffic for hours. Here’s our suggestions for a city survival kit to get you through when your everyday routine is interrupted or an emergency crops up.

  • Aluminum foil
  • Mini lighter
  • Razor blade
  • Mini multi-tool
  • Ear plugs
  • Duct tape
  • String or dental floss
  • Safety pins
  • Spare change
  • $5 to $20 in cash
  • Band-aids
  • Cough drops
  • Rubber band
  • Mini can opener

Fishing Kit/Tackle Box

Whether you love to fish in any spare time you get throughout the day or whether you want to be prepared to feed your family during an emergency situation, a fishing kit in an Altoid tin is a great idea. With a hot glue gun and some popsicle sticks you can create several compartments in the tin, designed to keep your tackle organized.

  • Hooks
  • Line
  • Rubber lures
  • weights
  • Credit card knife
  • Mini wire snippers or utility scissors

Spice and Seasonings Kit

Whether it’s to add some flavor to a bland lunch or help you spice up meals during an emergency or bug out situation, having an Altoid tin packed with spices and seasonings can make a huge difference. Keep one in the bottom of your purse, in your bug out bag, or even in the glove compartment of your car.

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Garlic Powder
  • Beef and Chicken Bouillon Cubes
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon

Snack Kit

Everyone needs a snack now and then as they go about their daily routine. And sometimes in an emergency situation, having a snack can keep you calm and get you through until help arrives or the situation changes. Focus on high protein snacks and ways to boost the flavor of water.

  • Tea bag
  • Singles to go drink mix
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter cracker
  • Cheez It crackers

Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene including oral hygiene is an important part of staying healthy. Altoid tins can be the perfect container to carry supplies to keep yourself clean and healthy.

  • Dental Pick
  • Dental Floss
  • Single use toothbrush/toothpaste or “Wisp”
  • Breath mints or gum
  • Shaving supplies
  • Feminine Hygiene Supplies
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cough drop

Overnight Survival Kit

When it comes to an overnight survival situation, it’s hard to determine just what items you will need without knowing the factors involved. Obviously if you know there’s a chance you will be stuck overnight somewhere, you would pack supplies you might need into your get home bag or car. You should also always have your EDC items with you. But having an overnight kit packed into and around an Altoid tin and keeping it with you at all times can certainly come in handy if you are unexpectedly trapped in your car or even outdoors overnight.

  • Aluminum foil or small mirror taped into the lid (for signaling, cooking, holding water)
  • Razor blade taped into lid
  • Strike anywhere matches and mini lighter
  • Band-Aids
  • Mini can opener
  • Zip ties or bread ties
  • Paper clips and safety pins (or fish hooks)
  • 15 to 20 feet of white nylon string
  • Air filter mask (wrapped tight with rubber band)
  • Water purification tablets
  • Wire pocket saw
  • Seal edges of tin with electrical tape (keeps tin waterproof and you’ll have tape)
  • Wrap duct tape around outside of tin
  • Put spare keys or credit card on top of duct tape
  • Wrap tin with ace bandage and seal inside Ziploc freezer bag
  • Secure with rubber band or hair tie

Cash and Communication Kit

When an emergency happens, especially one that knocks out power in some or all of the area, communication becomes difficult. For most of us, a power outage also means no access to money that we may have in the bank. Use an Altoid tin to keep extra cash, spare change, and other items you might need to get in touch with friends or family in an emergency.

  • Cash
  • Spare change
  • contact list taped inside lid (in case your cell dies)
  • Fully charged spare cell phone battery in zip lock bag
  • Emergency or backup credit card

Bow Tin

If bow hunting is your thing, you know how important it will be to have your supplies organized and ready for use in a survival emergency. An Altoid tin prepared in advance with the right materials and stored in the bottom of your tackle box, your BOB, or even the glove compartment of your car can come in handy as a last resort.

  • Arrow heads
  • dental floss
  • bow string
  • super glue
  • Fletching

Emergency Candle

Attach a wick clip and wick to the bottom of an Altoid tin. Fill the tin with melted wax and let it cool. Tape a book of matches to the lid of the tin and put the lid on tightly. Keep in a cool dry place until you need emergency light. Remove the lid and light the wick for hours of light.

Char Cloth

An Altoid tin can make a great container to make and store char cloth for your fire-starting needs during a survival situation.

Store Electronics Components

If you’re an IT person, a ham radio operator, or an electrician you’re aware of how tiny the different components can be that are used to make repairs. An Altoid tin can be a great place just to store those tiny components. Use mini Altoid tins for each type of component or store multiple components for each type of repair together in one of the original tins. To make separate compartments within the tin, use popsicle sticks and a hot glue gun.

tin

Videos to Modify Altoid Tins for Survival Use

Altoid tins are also used by many people because they are made of metal, they are sturdy with a tight-fitting lid, and because they block electromagnetic interference. Because of this, there are a ton of different ways to modify Altoid tins for survival use. I’ve included video instructions for details on the modifications needed for each use below:

USB Charger/Power Bank

These are handy to have when your cell phone battery dies. Get just enough juice to make an emergency phone call or send a text if you’re stranded on the side of the road.

 

Mini-Light

Who doesn’t need a little light now and then? Turn an Altoid tin into a mini light and keep it in your pocket or the center console in your car so you always have light when needed.

 

Alcohol Stove

In an emergency situation, there’s no way of knowing when or where you’ll have time to cook up some sustenance. These are great to have even for a hunting trip that gets extended or if you find yourself lost on a hike and needing to spend the night on the trail.

 

Bake Bread

For the chef in the family, baking bread in an Altoid tin is one of the things that is just a cool thing to say that you’ve done before. But, for a survival situation, knowing how to bake bread in an Altoid tin could be just the boost to morale your group needs to keep going another few days.

 

Emergency Radio

If you leave home in a survival situation without your radio or if yours is broken during your bug out trip, this handy Altoid tin radio could be just what you need to keep up with what’s happening in your area. Make this in advance, store it in your bug out bag, the glove compartment of your car, or even in your purse or backpack. When you need it, you’ll be glad to have it.

 

BB Gun or Dart Gun from an Altoid Tin

When it comes to security and self-defense, most of us would rather have a firearm or a weapon with some stopping power when we are faced with intruders or an angry wild animal. But for many people who have a fear of guns or for children who aren’t yet trained to handle a firearm, an Altoid tin can provide some security. It’s also a great backup weapon to have as a last resort to use to scare off an animal or distract someone’s attention and give you time to get away.

 

Morse Code Oscillator

If you know Morse code and have trained your family to know Morse code, it can be a great way to communicate if someone is trapped. In the video above, you’ll see how to make a Morse code oscillator from an Altoid tin. Imagine if every victim of an earthquake or other natural disaster where they were buried or trapped carried one of these in their pocket at all times. In the right situation, it could save lives by helping you to direct rescue workers or family members to your location.

 

Use Altoid Tins to Organize Around the Home

In addition to survival uses for Altoid tins, you can use these handy little containers to help organize different areas in your home or garage. Use different colored or shaped tins for different items or use a permanent marker to label each tin with its contents. Examples of other supplies or areas that can become ultra-organized with the help of Altoid tins include:

  • The junk drawer
  • Bathroom supplies
  • Office supplies
  • The workbench (screws and other fasteners)
  • Picture hanging supplies
  • Legos
  • Game pieces

Foods with Long Shelf Life

There are many different foods that you can seal into tiny containers and put into an Altoid Tin that will simply last several years or more until you find that you need them. These foods are good options to include in your survival snack or seasoning tin:

  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Rice
  • Cornstarch
  • White Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Maple Syrup

Other Containers for Survival Kits

If you don’t happen to have empty Altoid tins lying around but you still want to put together some of the survival kits we’ve described above, here are some other containers that are often used to organize, store, or carry survival kits.

  • Sardine tins
  • Large Plastic jars with screw on lids
  • Tupperware
  • Empty 2-liter bottles
  • Fanny or waist pouch
  • Mason Jars
  • Wide mouth pill Bottles with childproof caps
  • Pill Saver Containers for Pills or for Spices

So, you can use an Altoid tin or another type of container to create an all in one survival kit or several different kits each focused on a specific need. You can also use Altoid tins to help improve your daily organization in your home and garage. Regardless of how you choose to carry or store your kits, having the items you need handy during an emergency situation not only makes life easier, it could save your life.

The post Survival Altoids Kits: Yay or Nay? appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

Advanced Shooting Techniques for Preppers

In a real-world SHTF scenario, odds are you’re not going to be shooting from one position the entire time you’re in a firefight. This is where advanced marksmanship comes into play, practicing this may very well save your life one day. In this article, I’ll go over different shooting techniques ranging from shooting while behind cover, to shooting while on the move. Simply reading this article won’t prepare you for anything, so make sure you practice what you learn regularly.

“Marksmanship” is the term used to describe shooting techniques, as well as the basics. If you hear the term “marksmanship” from someone, they’re most likely referring to the techniques used in shooting. Because it would be unnecessary to say “shooting techniques” repeatedly, the word “marksmanship” is mostly used to simplify the term and narrow it down.

In a war zone, service members never stand out in the open like on a shooting range, and shoot at a stationary target. Why do you think things will be any different if SHTF and where you live becomes a warzone? You’ve heard the term “practice makes perfect”, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. If you only practice shooting at a stationary target, that’s all you’ll be good at. You need to broaden your training and train how you would really fight.

Why Practice Advanced Marksmanship?

As a prepper, your marksmanship skills could mean the difference between life and death when SHTF. Since you won’t have the luxury to have your enemy standing still the entire time like a target does at a shooting range, you should train how you fight. Even though it’s called “Advanced Marksmanship”, it should be a priority to make it second-nature. There are many instances post-collapse that would make advanced marksmanship necessary.

Home Invasions

These are a common occurrence in today’s world, imagine how much home invasions will increase post-collapse. Being able to defend your home and your family against any threat is the cornerstone for prepping. Someone who forcibly comes into your home is no friend of yours, most of the time. Most home invaders are after money, valuables, or even after your life.

Threats in the Wilderness

Most of the time when you bug out, you’ll spend some time in the woods. Do you really think you’ll be the only person who goes this route post-collapse? A lot of panic will ensue after a catastrophic event, and panic makes people do unspeakable things. If you run into a looter (or any type of threat) on your way to your bug out location, you’ll want to know more than your opponent. Knowledge is power, and that power could mean you winning the firefight.

Terrorist Attacks

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy (or girl) with a gun. Think of the recent terror attacks around the world, most of which could have been stopped by someone with the proper knowledge and means of doing so. If you find yourself in a legitimate firefight, advanced marksmanship will give you the upper-hand. It may even save your life, and the live of others.

The First Few Seconds of a Firefight

In the first few seconds of a firefight, adrenaline will be skyrocketed, you’ll get “tunnel vision”, and more than likely, you’ll begin to hyperventilate. There’s not much you can do to counter these effects. If there was, there would be no need for articles like this. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself is to train hard, and then train some more. The more you train, the more these techniques will become second nature when SHTF. This way, you don’t have to think about what to do, you just do it.

When you get shot at, the first thing you should do is shoot back. While you return fire, seek an area where there’s cover. Never hide, hiding will kill you. There’s a big difference between hiding, and taking cover to return fire. The first 15 seconds of a firefight determines who has fire-superiority, which means whoever has more firepower, will dominate the 15-second fight. Winning the 15-second fight is imperative, if you don’t, then your enemy has a far greater chance of walking away alive.

After you take cover, you need to think of what’s called the “3 D’s” in your head. These 3 D’s are distance, direction, and description. Make a mental note of these three things because they’re very important for how you’re going to engage them from cover. If you’re in a group of people, yell them out loudly so everyone in your group can hear.

Distance

This is self-explanatory, make a mental note of how far away the person shooting at you is. If they’re 1m (3.25ft) to 50m (164ft) away, that makes them close range. If they’re 50m (164ft) to 100m (328ft) away, that makes them medium range. Anything over 100m (328ft) classifies them as long range, these measurements become important for what decisions you’ll make in the next section.

Direction

If you’re by yourself, you can make a mental note of what direction your threat is from you. If you’re in a group, you’ll yell out a direction 1-12 o’clock from the group, not just from yourself. This is important because it gives your team a general sense of what kind of cover they should be seeking and in what direction.

Description

This is a very important factor to consider when it comes to a firefight, especially if you’re in a group. Calling out your enemy’s description not only means calling out what they’re wearing, but also what type of weapons they have. If there’s 3 men wearing black with AK-47s, and you’re by yourself with only a Glock 19 9mm, you might want to break contact. You should never initiate a fight with less than 3-1 odds.

Shooting While in Cover

If you’re behind cover and you don’t return fire, you’re giving your enemy the chance to advance on your position and eventually kill you. You need to return fire, even if your enemy has the advantage and you’re going to break contact. The longer you keep their heads down, the more freedom of maneuverability you have. In a firefight, you should use the “bounding” technique.

This means when you move, you should only be up and running for 3 seconds at a time. Say in your head “I’m up, they see me, I’m down”, this is a good subliminal tool to use when you want to bound. By the time you’re done with the sentence, you should already be either prone, or behind your next cover and concealed position. If you’re up for any longer, your risk of getting shot increases by the second.

When you’re behind cover, wait for a lull in gunfire to return fire. Nobody’s superhuman, so don’t try to be the hero and shoot while your position is getting hammered by accurate gunfire. Once there’s a lull, don’t shoot at them just to suppress, shoot to kill. The person who runs out of ammo first, dies first. Make sure you make every shot count, so if you come up from behind cover to shoot and they retreat behind cover at the same time, shoot a controlled pair into their cover and wait for them to make the next mistake.

Optimize the amount of cover you have. If you have a wall you can use to brace your weapon on, do it. Use the environment to your advantage. If you’re shooting from the side of your cover, change position. Don’t set a pattern, or your enemy can catch on and shoot you once you poke back out again. Never shoot from the same position more than twice in an engagement if you can help it, if you can confuse your enemy, you’ve already won (depending on your accuracy).

If you use a tree as cover, make sure you choose a tree that’s thick enough to actually stop bullets. Don’t pick a tree that’s 3 inches wide, you’ll look stupid and you’ll get shot. When you use the tree, you should shoot from the side that’s the same as your dominant side. This way, you can move the same-side knee out to “hug” the tree and rest your shooting elbow on the knee. This maximizes your cover, as well as a stable position to fire from.

war desert guns

Shooting on the Move

Shooting while moving is the exception, not the rule. You should never do this unless you absolutely must. It’s incredibly inaccurate, and can lead to many mistakes (like tripping). If you take contact while you’re moving, return fire in the general direction that you heard the rounds coming from while you run to cover.

If you’re bounding, concentrate on covering more distance while you run, rather than shooting. Sometimes, however, there are instances where you have no choice but to shoot while moving (like room clearing, or initial contact). In these scenarios, there’s many things you can do to help your accuracy, as well as mitigate the risk of tripping. All of this becomes much easier if you’re in good shape, so if you’re not, make sure you start.

The method of walking and shooting requires a good stance, as well as a steady base. While you walk, bend your knees slightly and (while keeping your back straight) lean your torso slightly forward. This gives you a steady base and the recoil of your weapon won’t rock you as much while you’re moving. Imagine you’re trying to keep a watermelon between your thighs while you walk as well, this will prevent you from walking too narrow which will cause you to trip.

While you shoot, you can use many techniques as far as trigger squeeze timing goes. My favorite technique is shooting on the same foot. This allows me to steady my shots, and keep a steady rhythm. To do this, pick a side (I like my non-dominant leg, so my shooting stance is natural when I fire) and every time you step forward with that side, you squeeze the trigger. You’ll find that your shot groups are tighter, and your breathing is more controlled if you find a rhythm when you shoot while moving.

Make sure that when you’re moving, you never cross your feet. Some people like to cross-over when moving from side to side. This is incredibly stupid, because one small shift of your balance will cause you to fall over, potentially taking you out of the fight. Instead, you should strafe from side to side by never moving your feet closer than shoulder-width apart. In doing this, you’re actually adding the ability to move faster, while cutting out the risk of falling.

Room Clearing

Clearing rooms while in a team is challenging, clearing them alone can seem impossible. You need to clear every angle, every dead-space (behind a couch for example), and every threat. Once you step through a door, you’ve already committed. A doorway is a fatal funnel, which means all gunfire will be directed at the doorway if there’s an enemy or enemies in the room. If you pause or hesitate while you’re in the fatal funnel, you will more than likely die.

This technique is incredibly useful as a prepper for many reasons, one of them being to clear your bug out location of threats after you’ve arrived. There’s a good chance that someone else may have found it, so it’s up to you (or you and your team) to make sure it’s safe before you make yourself comfortable. The worst thing you can do is “assume” something is safe, this leaves your life, and your family’s life up to chance.

If you’re by yourself, you should “pie” the corner, or doorway before you enter. When you pie something, you’re slowly aiming around a corner, or entryway. This minimizes your exposure while you clear a larger area. If there’s a larger threat (like a machine gun) than you can handle, you can always move back. That’s the beauty of using the pie method, you can always go back if necessary. You can also use this method for turning a corner in a hallway, or clearing a dead-space inside of a room.

You’re not Rambo, so don’t act like it when you clear rooms. Your movement should be slow, and methodical. There’s a saying “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”, this means if you slow it down, you’re less likely to make mistakes. This makes your movement through each room faster than it would be if you tried to rush and kept making mistakes, or worse.

You should check every door before you enter a room, run your hands along the crease of the door where it meets the frame to check for wires indicating a trap. Also, check the door handle to see if it’s unlocked before you kick the door in. If you don’t, you’re exposing your body when you don’t have to, in order to kick in an unlocked door. If it is locked, and you know there’s no innocent people inside, only enemies, you can fire a few rounds through the door immediately before you kick it in.

Be careful doing this, there are a lot of unseen variables when it comes to clearing a room, so this method should only be used when you’re in a “move fast, or die” scenario. When you’ve entered the room, the first thing you should see is the middle. Immediately after you’ve cleared the middle, you need to pick a side of the room and dominate the near-corner. Once you’ve cleared the near-corner, you can move your point of aim to the corner diagonal to it. Once you’ve cleared the main level of the room, make sure you check the ceiling for peep holes cut in it. While impractical, holes are often cut in the ceiling in some advanced defenses to optimize an ambush on an unsuspecting victim.

Ambushes

If you find yourself ambushed after you’ve already entered the fatal funnel, you need to match their level of violence, then go past that. The only way you can survive an ambush is becoming more violent than the ambusher. If you can’t, you’ll simply die, there is no in between. Think of it this way, when you were younger and your sibling would attack you, you had to “one-up” them to beat them. The same thing goes for ambushes, shoot more than they do. Use the box drill (described below), or the NSR drill.

If you enter through the doorway, and someone tries to grab your barrel, don’t panic. Think clearly, they’ve only grabbed your barrel, they can’t stop a bullet. Shoot them anyways, then keep moving. Another method of getting past a “rusher” (combatant who rushes you), is a “muzzle thump”. Your barrel is made out of hard metal, hitting somebody with the end of it is incredibly painful and incapacitating if done with enough force.

If all else fails, and you can’t match their violence, a last resort would be throwing a grenade into the room. Not everyone has grenades readily accessible, so this might not even be an option for you. if there are multiple enemies in the room, follow the order of succession described above. If you leave any sectors un-cleared before you move onto the next, you risk getting killed. Tip – never skip dead-space. These areas are very common for people to hide in, and once you’ve passed it, they’ll pop out and attack. A good way to think about it is “clear dead-space, or you’ll be dead.”.

Point, and Shoot

A great technique to optimize your accuracy during CQC (close-quarters combat), is using the index finger on your support hand to “point” at your target before you engage them. Think about it, when you point at anything, you use your index finger. Your body is naturally used to referencing this as your subliminal natural point-of-aim. When you’re in a CQC environment (when shooting close quarters is likely), stick your index finger on your support hand on your rifle out as if to point where your barrel is pointing. This way, if you have to make a split-second shot and you don’t have time to aim, your shot placement will be more accurate because you’re pointing at it.

Shooting Drills

There are seven main shooting drills that we’ll go over and if practiced a lot, can greatly improve your lethality in CQC. Shooting drills are methods of shooting that directly translate to shooting in the real world. Every scenario is different when it comes to a real-world firefight, and since we train how we fight, our shooting drills should be different too.

Controlled Pair

This is the most common shooting drill, commonly referred to as the “double-tap”. Firing a controlled pair into your target means that you fire two well-placed shots into your target’s chest cavity. Once you’ve fired these two shots, you assess the situation and if necessary, fire another controlled pair. This is a great technique to use in all generic shooting scenarios, because if the first hit doesn’t kill them, the second one will.

Hammer Pair

The Hammer Pair Drill is used when you don’t have as much time to shoot two well-placed shots into your target. This drill is very quick, meaning your trigger squeeze is one right after the other. If you have your basic fundamentals down, this should be an accurate drill to perform. Sometimes two shots aren’t enough to stop the threat, that’s why there are other drills.

Failure Drill

The Failure Drill is commonly referred to as “two in the chest, one in the head”. This is a great technique (if you have the accuracy to support it) for CQC, and can also be a deterrent for other potential threats when they see their companion go down with two well-placed shots, followed by a head shot. You won’t always have the luxury of utilizing the failure drill, so don’t rely on this drill just because it looks cool.

N.S.R. Drill

The Non-Standard Response (NSR) drill is when SHTF and you must unload as many rounds into your target as possible to stop the threat. To perform this drill, simply raise your weapon up, and unload 10-15 rounds into your target’s chest cavity. This is a practical drill if someone pops out from around a corner just feet from you trying to kill you.

Zipper Drill

The Zipper Drill is a fail-safe way of incapacitating your target. To perform the zipper drill, fire 5-6 rounds in succession into the enemy’s spinal cord, starting from the bottom and working your way up towards the head. This drill is extremely effective because if you damage someone’s spinal cord, they can’t fight back. It’s a brutal, yet effective way to end a CQC engagement quickly.

Box Drill

The Box Drill is used if there are two targets close together that both need to be neutralized in a quick succession. To perform the box drill, fire two rounds into the chest cavity of the biggest threat (generally the person with their weapon up first), followed by two rounds into the chest cavity of the second threat. After your second hammer drill, you will fire a round into the head of the second threat, and then a round into the head of the biggest threat. This ensures that you maximize your effectiveness with only one weapon.

Disability Drill

The Disability Drill is a great way to practice shooting and reloading with your non-dominant hand. Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) tends to show its ugly face very often in a firefight. Because of this, you need to train accordingly. To shoot with your non-dominant hand, you need to shoot with your non-dominant eye. You can’t accurately shoot with your non-dominant hand while still aiming with your dominant eye.

Shooting drills are a great way to safely practice for real-world scenarios at a static range. When you first start training on a drill, start off slow. Remember, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Don’t move onto the next drill until you’ve perfected the last one. Bruce Lee once said “I fear the man who’s practiced one kick 10,000 times more than the man who’s practiced 10,000 kicks one time.”.

Wrap-Up

Advanced Marksmanship is a great category of marksmanship to train on, but only if you’ve perfected the basics. Don’t try to run before you’ve learned to walk, otherwise you’re limiting yourself and how great you could have been. Don’t try to learn drills before you’ve gotten down your trigger squeeze. If you train on these techniques, you’ll greatly improve your combat-effectiveness when SHTF.

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Bug-Out Van: Living In a Van When SHTF

What happens when all hell breaks loose?

We spend time preparing our bug-out-bags and survival gear, but a lot of preppers neglect their vehicle. Not only does a van help you get to your bug out location – it can be your bug out location!

In this post you’ll learn what your car needs…

…and what to expect when living out of a van.

You’ll also get tactics for hygiene, organization, and eating in your van.

Check it out:

Now some people actually choose to live out of their cars. Why? Well, for some it is the nature of their work that has them on the road for extended periods of time, so why not sleep there as well. After all, why have an apartment that you barely use? Others lead a lifestyle that places them on the trail all the time for example hikers and backpackers. They can drive to their preferred hiking location and use their car as their base camp.

Others choose to live out of their cars as a strategic lifestyle. By being frugal you can avoid rent costs which are sky rocketing, and save enough to pay off loans like credit card debt or student loans. For others still, it just a statement of rebellion against the status quo.

The Hidden Homeless

Unfortunately, the percentage of people who live out of their car out of circumstance is much higher than that of those who do so willingly. Being homeless or even just temporarily displaced leaves many people with no other option but to live out of their cars. A shaky economy and thousands of foreclosures have driven families and individuals out on the streets.

Roughly about one out of five homeless people in a given area live out of their cars. In fact, the sight of RV’s and vans with people living inside has become a common occurrence in the largest cities of the world.

The trick to living in your car with relative peace is finding locations which can accommodate you for extended periods of time with relatively high security. Consider the parking lots of 24-hour stores that have an unofficial policy of allowing vans, motor homes and trailers to camp overnight. The CCTV surveillance at these stores is usually a great deterrent for crime meaning you will be relatively safe. Other great locations include

  • Hospital emergency room parking lots
  • Staff parking lots at hospitals
  • Top floors of parking garages
  • Truck rest stops
  • Construction sites
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Car repair places
  • Police stations
  • Pub parking lots
  • Churches
  • Public boat launch areas

It is important to note that certain areas have time limits like rest stops that offer a 12-hour limit. Also, keep of gang turf and makes sure your key is not in the ignition when using a pub parking lot as this is technically considered driving by the police.

back of the van

The fundamentals – from a mechanical standpoint

The reality of living in your car is difficult but feasible as long as you manage your expectations. The most important thing is to ensure the mechanical soundness of your van to ensure it can accommodate you for as long as you need it to.

The more serious mechanical considerations include:

Temperature

Depending on the season you must ensure your car settings can be tweaked to keep the temperature ideal for you. In the hot season, you can use a portable fan that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter. Rolling the windows down is a not an option for safety purposes.

During the colder months, you have the option of running the engine although this is an expensive option and you run the risk of calling attention to yourself. However, by ensuring that you don’t have cracked windows or doors that do not close properly you can keep the cold from coming in. Of course, you must have warm clothing, a sleeping bag, some blankets and sheets and a curtain to stay warm.

Lockable doors

Not only can this keep the elements out, it also ensures your safety. It is untenable to live in your car when your doors cannot lock because you place yourself in mortal danger. In addition, lockable doors ensure you have your privacy.

Windows that can be wound up or down

Windows act like your HVAC system when you are living in your car. They let in fresh air and keep the car warm or cool. Having windows that cannot be wound up or down means that you need to use the car’s AC more often, which is not an ideal situation.

A fully charged battery

This is imperative for powering your essentials like your mobile phone, laptop and perhaps a mini fridge or fan. Ensure you never drain your battery while taking care of the above by keeping it fully charged. Keep the use of such things at a minimum or else you may just find yourself with a damaged or dead battery.

A functional engine

One other thing to consider is the need to get away from a location or situation very fast. As such, your battery, engine and other pertinent parts of the car need to be running at optimum. Since it is your home you must find a way to make this possible especially if you are sleeping in varied spaces.

Essentials accessories

A spare key for your car just in case you lose the original one. Just like you would do for your apartment, you need to do keep a key outside of the car but in an easily accessible place.

A jump starter battery box is essential especially since you are constantly using your battery to charge your important everyday equipment. It is imperative, of course, to keep it fully charged. The advantage of a jumper starter battery box is that you do not need anyone to give you a jump start.

An inverter is an absolute essential as it converts the vehicle’s 12 volts direct current power to an alternating current which is more palatable for household devices. Assuming you have any household devices then they are kept safe.

Electrical power jacks

Since most cars come with only the cigarette lighter or one accessory jack you need the three-in-one jack to accommodate all your charging needs. In some vehicles, the cigarette lighter shuts off once the ignition is turned off. You can have a mechanic re-route the accessory plug to bypass the ignition or add a plug that doesn’t need the ignition to be on to be powered.

The reality of living in your car

We have established that your car is a better option compared to a tent, a shelter or even sleeping on your friend’s couch. Now let us tackle how to manage this living space and make it comfortable.

Privacy

Understandably, without the reassuring presence of four walls to keep prying eyes out it may take you some time to get comfortable in your new home. You will need to be extra vigilant of your surroundings but with simple precautionary measures, you will be able to settle in and even begin to have a restful sleep.

Now, speaking of those precautionary measures, do note that we said simple. Do not go overboard with bobby traps and military style deterrents. You could hurt someone and land yourself in a worse predicament than already are in. Consider the below, more acceptable options

  • A reflective sunshade to place on your windscreen. This is great for shutting the world out and at the same time keeps the heat out during summer and acts as an insulator during winter.
  • Store bought press-on window tints. These are great as a temporary measure although you may want to invest in something more opaque like curtains
  • Opaque colored curtains. Using opaque curtains can create a sanctuary just like placing curtains on windows in your house would. They also give the space a cozy feel which is important when you want to rest.
  • Locking the doors. You can never be too sure of your surroundings so having doors with functioning locks is imperative. This way no body, sinister or just curious, would have the opportunity to breach your privacy.
  • Use the buddy system. If you have friends who are in a similar situation, a buddy system is ideal to keep up privacy and safety as well. A lone car coming under attack stands little chance compared to two or more cars with inhabitants inside. In addition, it is much harder for peeping toms to muster the courage to look into your car if there you have friends nearby looking out for you.

Hygiene

The limitations to personal hygiene while living in a car are many. After all, you have no shower, brushing your teeth outside your car can alert people to the fact that you slept in your car, and going to toilet becomes a scheduled affair.

Some people opt to join a gym and maintain a membership that allows them to access shower facilities that have towels. Hanging wet towels in the car provides a great environment for mildew. Alternatively, take up a sponge bath which you can accomplish in your car or a rest room then pay for a shower at a rest stop or pay for entry to a swimming pool or the YMCA where you can also get shower facilities.

It is imperative to identify specific places in your vicinity that have clean and safe restrooms with running water. Incorporate them into your daily routine and ensure that you use the facilities responsibly. Another option is to have your own personal chemical toilet which although convenient is not the freshest option.

Keeping your clothes clean is perhaps the easier part of your personal hygiene when living in a car. Stacking loads of dirty clothes compromises the air quality of your car. At laundromats, you are able to take care of your weekly laundry at a reasonable price.

Organization

Living in a car is the real test of minimalist living. Only the crucial items need to be in the car as they are essential for your everyday survival. The essentials should include a communication kit which includes your cell phone, laptop or tablet, and the needed chargers. Consider a solar charger to ensure you do not discharge your car battery.

For sleeping arrangements, a sleeping mat that can be rolled up keeps the surface smooth and makes the sleeping bag even more comfortable. Keep your clothing in portable packing units like packing cubes from Amazon. These cubes act like a drawer system and can be stacked to create room.

Cooking facilities should be the bare minimum. A fork, spoon, plate, cooking pot, cup, dish washing soap and a drying cloth. All these can fit in a bucket with a tight lid to keep out dust and dirt. A little cooker that can fit neatly in the corner should come in handy as well.

Food should also be stored in an airtight, well-closed container. Do not stack up on fresh produce like meat and poultry unless you intend to cook it on the same day. Work with dry foods like dehydrated beans and canned meats which are guaranteed to be safe if not consumed on the same day. Also, remember poor food storage will attract pest and vermin into your house car.

Medical supplies are imperative so keep a “medicine cabinet” that features a first aid kit, toiletries and other hygiene essential like baby wipes.

If you have the means rent a mini-storage cubicle to store your valuables and other important items that you do not need at the moment.

Eating

Eating in restaurants is not a feasible option when you have little to survive on. To keep yourself healthy choose to eat fresh fruits and vegetables which you can make into a salad in a heartbeat. Stock up on nuts, cereals, canned soups, cheese, eggs, long-life milk and peanut butter and jams.

Food preparation must be done outside of the car. You can go to the local campsite to prepare your food outdoors and come back to your designated sleeping place afterward so that you keep the place clean. You wouldn’t want to be kicked out of a safe place because you are not able to keep the place clean.

van 3

Living life to the fullest from your car

Living in your car can be depressing. This is the harsh reality of losing everything and being homeless. The shame associated with such a loss can cause you to become a hermit or a recluse by choice. Combat negative feelings by getting out of your car as often as you can. Go for walks, enjoy the park and keep in touch with loved one. This is an essential part of moving forward towards a healthy future.

Find yourself a portable CD player with radio for entertainment and news so you can keep up-to-date with the world around you. Get a private mailbox with a street address which comes in handy for driver’s licenses, ID cards, car insurance and job applications and emergency situations.

Find free Wi-Fi hotspots that allow you to keep using your internet enabled devices. This keeps you in the loop whether you are looking for a job or are already working and need access to your emails and other work related documents. Public libraries are great because they have computer access.

You can also spruce up the car with portable solar panels to charge your devices. Alternatively, carry a small generator. And since every time you may need to cook something you will not necessarily be close to a campsite you should consider a small propane stove for those times. If you have this option ensure that you have enough propane for your stove.

Fitting the van with a shower or bathroom is also a possibility. Some vans can allow you to stand and fit the shower head on the roof. You can also fit a rack on the rooftop of the van to keep your supplies and gear properly secured.

Conclusion

There is nothing flippant about living from your car. It can be a terrifying experience that can leave you depressed and even suicidal. Be that as it may, it is a manageable situation as well that can make you stronger and more focused in pursuing better for yourself. Whether it is a choice you have consciously made to live out your car or hard times have pushed you there, a car can be a house much better than a tent can.

The post Bug-Out Van: Living In a Van When SHTF appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

The Domino Effect of Disasters

When the SHTF, it is going to get messy…very, very messy. The domino effect sparked by either a natural or man-made disaster will be at least as dangerous and life-threatening as the originating event in almost every case.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey clearly illustrated that we should not be preparing for just one specific disaster, but how to survive a series of doomsday kicks to the teeth in the days, weeks, and even months, that follow the initial disaster.

Vital pieces of infrastructure broke down almost immediately after both hurricanes – leaving the survivors of the initial disaster even more vulnerable – turning hundreds into victims or part of a death toll statistical chart.

During Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina, few lives were lost due to the actual high and powerful winds. It was the flooding, lack of shelter, power, medication, food, and water that caused the bulk of the traffic deaths. While both historic hurricanes caused property damage to both residential and commercial properties, the bulk of the destruction and economic impact stemmed from the flooding which followed and the massive amount of time it took for the flood waters to recede so the lengthy rebuilding process could begin.

What Problems Will I Face After A SHTF Primary Crisis?

Before you and your loved ones begin or venture further on your SHTF preparedness plan, pause for more than a few moments for a reality check. Make a list of both national impact doomsday disaster scenarios that have a low to medium probability of happening and another list of regional disasters that have a high probability of actually occurring.

This list will likely have just a handful of doomsday scenarios, but each will be significant on a national or international level. Dividing up the possible SHTF threats in different categories will help you to focus on the specifics of each potential threat and the likely secondary disasters they will trigger – and ultimately how not being prepared to immediately deal with them will likely cost your and those your love, you very lives.

The cascading series of events after the SHTF can kill as quickly as the hurricane, tornado, power grid failure, or even a nuclear attack. Making it through the initial disaster is the first, and not the last, step on the journey to survival.

Every prepper must have a contingency plan for their backup plan to be truly positioned to survive not just a SHTF situation, but all that will come next.

Nationwide Disasters

Regional Disasters

  • Flooding
  • Regional power outage due to inclement weather
  • Tornado
  • Hurricane
  • Drought – Extreme heat wave
  • Earthquake
  • Tsunami
  • Wild fires
  • Extreme Winter Weather

Now, start pondering or discussing the spectrum of problems which can, will – and have, happened after each of the high probability scenarios have actually taken place. It will not take long to realize you will have to multiple the obstacle and threats you will be facing tenfold…at least.

The domino effects of most disasters will be the same – but occur on a varying scale depending upon the location, size, and severity of the SHTF scenario. Preparing for the aftermath of the biggest, nastiest, and most deadly doomsday disasters will greatly enhance your ability to survive any of the potential apocalyptic scenarios or natural disasters on the above lists.

Martial Law

The federal government could declare martial law when any of the disasters on the list occurs – it has and probably will again. Martial Law was declared for days after the Boston Marathon bombing.

The law gives the government the right to suspend our constitutional rights and hands over local law enforcement control to the United States Military. Your guns, food, water – and any other preparedness items you have worked so hard to stockpile could be confiscated without any formal proceeding or avenue for appeal to get them back. The federal government can declare martial law in cases of massive civil disobedience, when a state of war has been declared, during natural disasters, and during man-made disasters like nuclear war and cyber attacks.

When Martial Law is declared the federal government has the authority to take over the energy system, the civil transportation system, hospitals and the health system and pharmacies, as well as food and water resources.

  • If a pandemic occurs, the government can make vaccinations mandatory for all citizens.
  • If caught with guns and ammunition after an order to turn in all weapons and related equipment has been issued, you could be sent to prison without a fair, speedy, or public trial.
  • Curfews can be ordered and strictly enforced by means deemed necessary by the federal government.
  • Food can be both confiscated and rationed when Martial Law is declared after a natural or man-made disaster.
  • Forced evacuations and relocations can also become ordered – at gunpoint if deemed necessary by authorities.

Downed Power Grid Domino Effects

When any one the disasters on either the nationwide or regional list happens, the power grid will fail. The only questions are how long will it be down and how far-reaching is the impact. It will take only hours during a mega disaster, or days during a localized disaster, for gasoline tanks at stations to run dry and grocery store shelves to empty.

Why the power grid goes down will greatly impact how bad things will become in America, and the true and long-reaching impact of the disaster. An EMP attack on the power grid or a solar flare could forever change the life as we know it. A cyber attack will not destroy all sensitive electronics in our homes, hospitals, government agencies and the military, but it could easily spark a spiraling economic collapse an leave the nation vulnerable to foreign enemies.

Even newbie preppers know to anticipate a power failure after a disaster, but the domino effect of a downed power grid will cause emergency care at hospitals, by the police, firefighters, and garnering needed prescription medication and treatments to be impacted on an indefinite basis as well.

  • Health Emergencies – Disease will spread quickly, especially if the mounting number of dead bodies and human waste are not disposed of properly – which is extremely unlikely after a massive regional or nationwide disaster. The very young, the elderly, and infirm will be effected substantially by the lack of power to regulate temperature inside their homes and to power essential medical devices, like oxygen tanks, that are necessary to keep them alive.
  • Civil Unrest – Desperate people and criminals will swarm on the weak, taking everything of value – including their live and dignity in the process. In the case of a doomsday disaster that effects the entire country, inmates at prison and jail cells, and patients in mental health wards, will ultimately find themselves wandering around in society once again. The inmates and patients who were taking prescription pills to control mental health issues will be off their meds as they wander the streets in the midst of the SHTF scenario, and will likely become a danger to both themselves and others.
  • Financial Collapse – The power grid, utility industrial systems, economy, and technology that far too many folks rely upon during their daily lives are deeply intertwined. When one goes down, the others are sure to fail quickly soon after. The death toll from the emergency scenarios which are triggered by the SHTF disaster are likely to increase the death toll tremendously in the hours, days, weeks, and yes…even months, after the end of the world as we know it scenario materialized. The dollar will become worthless as hyper-inflation emerges. Survivors who have a service or goods to sell in order to make a living will revert back to a barter system to be compensated for their efforts. Precious gems and metals will become the currency in the post-apocalyptic society.
  • Emergency Services – Looting, rioting, and violent crimes will go unchecked within days after a national downed power grid down disaster. Even if the grid failure is only regional, it will take time for the state or federal government to mobilize first responders from outside the affected area and send them, and the fuel, food, and water they will need, into the disaster zone. The Americans living without power will also be forced to survive without EMS services, police officers, firefighters. A single fire can grow and consume an entire neighborhood in hours when fire trucks cannot roll to the scene to put out the blaze. If the power grid collapse was sparked by an EMP or solar flare and not a cyber attack, all of the planes flying in the sky would likely fall as their guidance systems failed. Fires at the crash scene flamed by jet fuel, would destroy a business district and homes rapidly. Folks trying to stay warm will cause an exceptionally high number of house fires.
  • Potable Water – Without electricity water treatment plants will no longer be able to process. Water will not flow from any faucets or well which rely upon electricity for power. Manual or solar-powered well pumps will be the only ones still functional – making clean water another valuable form of currency after a power grid down disaster – or any long-term disaster which knocks out the power for even a short amount of time.
  • Destruction of Modern Society – The type of apocalyptic event will have a drastic impact on not only the domino effect but the society survivors are left with months after the dust has settled. If the doomsday disaster was sparked by an EMP attack of X-class solar flare, the originating incident and the trigger events could have a nearly permanent impact. All sensitive electronics, including those in vehicles, hospital equipment, airplanes, and in all major industries will likely be fried beyond repair – just like the transformers that once powered our electrical grid. The federal government does not have a stockpile of the necessary grid repair parts stored in a Faraday cages in a warehouse somewhere – although they should. If the power grid is repaired and electricity restored, it will probably take three or five years to accomplish – providing that the folks with the knowledge and skills to do so survived the apocalypse. There will be no “picking up where we left off” before the lights went out.

hurricane matthew

Tornado, Flood, Wild Fires, Hurricane, and Tsunami Disasters

Approximately 85 percent of the American population lives in or around the 40 major cities in the United States. The survivors from metropolitan areas will converge upon the suburbs seeking safety and resources and then will venture to rural areas seeking more of the same.

Being the ultimate prepper will NOT protect you from flooding, fire, hurricanes, or tornadoes that can level most survival retreats, kill crops, and deplete your water supply. The material you choose to build your home out of will greatly increase your ability to withstand a natural disaster or trigger effect, but may not protect your crops, hay pastures, and stocked pond, and livestock from the same set of circumstances.

  • Food Shortages – How will you feed your family or mutual assistance group and the livestock after your hay pastures and gardens are flooded? If forced to evacuate due to a flood, how will you get both your loved ones and your preps to safety? Walking through flood water is extremely dangerous not only due to the quickly flowing water but also because of the injurie and bacterial infections you can become afflicted with due to the debris and waste you are surrounded by while trying to wade or swim to higher ground. You can put your beloved dog in the BOV with you, but will your herds and flock fit as well? Investing in a livestock trailer to house at least some of your herd and flock should be a top priority in the prepping budget. Not having a bugout plan because you live on a sustainable piece of ground where you THOUGHT riding out the apocalypse was possible, will substantially decrease your chances of survival. If you evacuate without your livestock they will not be there when/if you ever get back -the animals will either be dead or stolen.
  • Price Gouging – Price-gouging after even a regional disaster almost always occurs, even though it is illegal. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, photos of cases of water selling for almost $100. Baby formula and toilet paper were also relabeled with price tags reflecting at least triple their typical value.
  • Gas Leaks – Earthquakes can cause gas line breaks and leaks which can be as deadly as the natural disaster and spark raging fires and explosions – destroying whole neighborhoods and business districts. If you smell or hear leaking gas, go outside and shut off the gas, and notify the gas company when you can.
  • Downed Power Lines – Live power lines flying in the air after a tornado or earthquake, floating on debris after a flood, or sparking from poles during wildfires claim the lives of survival of natural disasters ever year.
  • Water Shortage – Clean drinking water will again be a problem in the aftermath of any of these natural disasters. Flooded water treatment plants and reservoirs, and a lack of electricity if the power goes out temporarily – which is highly probable, will leave victims of the disasters with only the drinking water they have stockpiled and can carry with the while attempting to evacuate.
  • Aftermath Injuries – Emergency medical care will not be available immediately, or in the days to a week after a natural disaster for anyone stuck inside the disaster zone. Emergencies services will be working on a skeleton crew, if at all. Even small injuries could wind up killing you. Making sure your Tetanus booster shot is up-to-date is a simple task that can save your life. The Tdap or Td vaccination also immunizes both adults and children against diphtheria and pertussis – whooping cough. These contagious viruses are airborne and can become deadly when left untreated. Sustaining a minor injury while evacuating or any time during the doomsday disaster, could prove painfully deadly. One small cut on a piece of rusty old fencing or contracting MRSA or a similar bacteria while trudging through unsanitary conditions, can cause an infection you will not be able to garner treatment for – one that merely getting your Tetanus booster shot in date, would have prevented. Have a written list of medications anyone in your family or group are prescribed to take on a regular basis with you when evacuating – if possible, take along any pill bottles as well. During a local or regional disaster, when society has not completely collapsed, FEMA staffers MAY be able to deliver prescription medications and medical personnel to designated shelters to offer resupply and emergency aid.
  • Civil Unrest – Looting will happen, the only unknown factors involve how quickly the thievery, beatings, and possibly rapes, and murders will occur. Multiple murders happened for weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The well-armed folks in Texas were ready to defend what was theirs after Hurricane Harvey, but that did not completely prevent looting from happening – or vile people from pretending to work for the government and issuing fake evacuation orders to trick citizens out of them homes to make them easier to rob.

nuclear explosion

Nuclear Attack

If a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack – or a conventional war reaches American soil, the loss of life will be tremendous. A nuclear attack can cause third-degree burns on human skin up to five miles away from the detonation site. People 20 miles away from the blast zone could still sustain heat burns to their skin. The intense wind from a nuclear detonation shock wave will not peak until it hits 600 MPH – leveling anything or anyone in its path instantly.

When the United States dropped nuclear bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, between 64,000 and 135,000 died – but not instantly. The bulks of the Japanese people who died perished from radiation sickness, thermal burns, and injuries caused by debris and building collapses.

  • Economic Collapse – A complete and possibly impossible to recover from, financial meltdown will happen after a nuclear attack. Depending upon the targeting of the nuclear attack, major industries could be leveled mere moments after the attack. The EMP (electromagnetic pulse) created by the bomb would quite probably leave no facet of our economic system untouched. Data retrieval and the flow of communications now heavily relieved upon to conduct business – even on a small level, would be corrupted or destroyed completely.
  • Emergency Medical Care – Approximately 90 percent of the medical care providers in Hiroshima were injured or killed after the bomb was dropped on the major metropolitan area. Reaching an area outside of the ground zero attack area in time to save your life will not likely be a reality. Buy potassium iodide pills to protect you and your loved ones from radiation poisoning for protection during the aftermath of a nuclear attack. Potassium iodide can be harmful to pregnant women and nursing mothers. Americans up to 30 miles away from bomb detonations could suffer radiation poisonings – all hospitals left in operation will quickly become overwhelmed with patients and run short on necessary medications. Deaths caused by cancers created by the radiation exposure will likely occur for years after the initial attack. Approximately 32 million Americans may be in need of immediate medical care of some type – there are about 50,000 doctors in the United States – at least there are today, before a bomb hits.
  • Health Emergencies – Millions of Americans who survive the nuclear attack would be left with potentially severely weakened immune systems – leaving them far more susceptible to illness and possibly sparking pandemics of epic proportion. Proper disposal of human waste, eating contaminated food, and drinking tainted water will lead to yet more long-term medical emergencies and increase the death toll in the days, weeks, and month after the nuclear attack.
  • Food and Water Shortages – The ground will become covered in radioactive dust. The nuclear, chemical, or biological agents used in the attack can destroy all water reservoirs and farms. Depending upon the way the wind is blowing and the possibility of acid rain, only food and water at least 25 to 30 miles away from the attack zone could be safe for consumption.
  • Power Outage – A nuclear attack would also take out the electrical grid. All of the power grid down aftermath scenarios laid out above will occur on either a regional, multi-regional, or national level – depending upon the scope and location of the bomb(s) dropped. The EMP caused by the nuclear bomb would likely destroy our telecommunications networks, sensitive medical equipment, information processing systems and equipment. Spike in electrical voltage caused by the electromagnetic pulse created by the nuclear blast would damage microprocessors along the grid at an alarming rate. An EMP of this type could damage or destroy electrical transformers thousands of miles away – potentially reaching into Canada and Mexico as well.
  • Violent Marauders – Clashes between suburban and rural residents and the marauding hordes will cause even more destruction and death. Battles for power over urban neighborhoods and for control of invaded areas will bring about a type of civil unrest never before experienced in America. Can your group withstand a repeated attack by a heavily armed group of 50 marauders? What if they have a tank, rocket-propelled grenades, or a machine gun? Looting of armories and law enforcement stashes will surely take place after a SHTF disaster. Theft, murder, and rape – or preventing such atrocities, will become a part of daily life after a doomsday disaster. Even good and decent people you knew before the SHTF can, and will, resort to theft or become violent when they and their children are starving or literally dying for a drink of water.
  • Fires – Blazes caused by a nuclear bomb explosion will rage for up to two miles around the blast zone. Businesses, homes, and farms will be completely destroyed because first responders in the area – the ones left alive, will not be able to respond quickly enough to squash all of the raging fires.
  • Livestock Protection – Do you have gas masks for your livestock? How will you keep the herds and flocks alive during a drought, after a raging wildfire caused by untrained people lighting fires to keep warm when there is no fire department to respond to the emergency?

drought

Drought, Heat Wave, and Severe Winter Weather Disasters

While these types of disasters are typically thought of in regional terms, they can also happen on a multi-state or national level. Americans who live in regions plagued on an annual basis by severe weather issues prepare for them on a routine basis – but foresight has not protected communities from related financial loss, deaths, and the destruction of both public and private property.

  • Food Shortages – Any time a storm is predicted to roll into a city or county, there is a mad rush by the unprepared to get to the supermarket and grab all the items we preppers already have stockpiled. Grocery store shelves empty quickly, price gouging has been known to occur, and loss of life by panicked people who wait too long to rush out for milk, bread, and other staples, happens on a regular basis as well. When the weather disaster is more severe or lasts longer than predicted, or for folks unable to buy what they need, food shortages cause many people to go hungry until the government steps in to help.
  • Water Shortages – The drought which plagued California and surrounding areas for several years caused massive water shortages and orders by the government to reduce consumption – which many ignored and others were fined when they ignored the mandate. Crops withered on the vine, livestock died, and prices went up for produce, beef, and poultry across the United States as a result.
  • Medical Emergencies – First responders become overly taxed during both heat waves and winter storms. When the power goes out, as it often does, fuel becomes scarce – leaving police cruisers, EMS trucks, and fire engines unable to respond to every call. Hospital generators keep the doors to the medical centers opening – at least until they run dry, but even then, the facilities are operating far from maximum capacity.
  • Power Outages – The power outages caused by the overwhelmed grid during heat waves and downed lines during winter storms leave anyone in the affected area without the ability to cool or heat their homes. Not only do medical emergencies occur because of the inoperable heating and cooling systems in homes, house fires increase as people become desperate to stay warm and life-giving home medical equipment fails to work, causing severe illness or death. Food spoils quickly when the power goes out during warm weather months, leaving even those who rushed to the grocery store in time to grab what they needed, without the ability to keep it from spoiling. When the power is out, you will have no access to your credit or debit cards or ATM machines.
  • Civil Unrest – Looting happens quickly during many natural disasters. When the power goes out or evacuation is strongly urged, both homes and businesses become extremely vulnerable to looters – who know all too well the local police department is not going to arrive either promptly or at all.
  • Economic Impact – Stores and restaurants that lost their stock due to a power outage or storm damage are sometimes forced to shutter permanently or temporarily – and lay off workers depending upon the job to feed their families.

Economic Collapse

Massive Unemployment – Where the survivors will work, what kinds of jobs and services they will be able to offer, and how they will be paid for their efforts could forever be changed. America will be transported back to an 1800s style existence overnight and we will once again have an economy based upon barter and precious metals and gems.

  • Hyper-Inflation – The economic collapse, unlike the mega disaster not enough Americans are preparing for, will not necessarily happen overnight – it could be a slow and painful ordeal for non-preppers. If hyper-inflation occurs due to a steep fiscal downturn or because of a growing panic over a natural disaster or panic over potential war, even a simple can of generic vegetables could boast a $50 price tag. Folks who have not stockpiled essential items will no longer be able to be able to afford them. Many will die or become desperate and turn to violence and looting to have their basic needs met.
  • Bank Closures – A run on the banks will be inevitable. Many will lock their doors to try to remain solvent. A declaration of Martial Law will likely occur to reduce the ability of citizens to even travel to their local bank and try to save their remaining dollars.
  • Civil Unrest – Rioting in the streets will become extremely violent as every unprepared Americans becomes desperate for money to buy what they can before the price of goods goes up…again. The value of the dollar will likely fluctuate on an hourly basis.
  • Essential Services – The inability to pay our utility bills due to the hyper-inflation will cause shut-off notices to begin appearing in your mailbox. It may take only a few weeks until you no longer have electricity, gas, and water services. Police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel are a dedicated lot, but how long will they be willing to risk their lives – and the lives of their families by their absence from the home, when the government can no longer afford to issue their paychecks? Trash collections will eventually cease as well, sparking a public health crisis that will probably cause many deaths or perhaps even a pandemic.
  • Medical Shortages – The cost of medicines will increase quickly as well. Only those with very deep pockets will likely be able to afford medical care or prescriptions necessary to keep them healthy – or alive.
  • Deliveries of Goods – Fuel prices will skyrocket. The goods that are left in circulation with a vastly inflated price tag, will likely not even be able to reach your town. Deliveries of food and medicine that can actually still reach their intended destination during the early stages of an economic collapse, will be highly guarded to prevent the trucks from being hijacked on the road or the items stolen when trying to unload at a store.
  • Confiscation and Rationing – Expect the federal government to use Martial Law to confiscate what it deems necessary for the “public good.” A rationing system will likely be used to distribute food and water – the handouts will probably be handed out at FEMA camps where the populace is ultimately corralled into as the economic collapse hits its peak.
  • National Security – A nation that cannot feed itself also cannot pay its bills and becomes vulnerable to enemies. If China decides to call in its markers, the financial impact of the collapse will become even more far-reaching and devastating. The health and wellness of the military will be of extreme importance to the federal government – and the needs of our soldiers taken into high account when the food and medicine rationing percentages are being determined.
  • Bartering– When the rebuilding stage begins after a financial collapse, it will be based on tangible goods and not a dollar without any real value. Stockpiling gold, silver, precious gems, seeds, shoes, and other necessary items might just make you a millionaire if you survive the economic collapse or any of the other nationwide disasters on the list.

The final outcome of a SHTF disaster will not be known until after all of the triggers have ended and the survivors begin come to terms with new normal and start rebuilding their communities – and hopefully the country.

We should all think of SHTF doomsday disasters and the domino effects that will occur as being part of the same evil charm bracelet. The initiating incident, the fires, civil unrest, power outages, related natural disaster, economic collapse, food supply shortage, medical shortages, water shortages, and disease are all linked together and dangling close together nearby – just waiting for their turn to become the center of your attention.

If you think because you have mad survival skills and live on a fully stocked prepper retreat with a clan of like-minded and equally (mostly) trained folks that you are untouchable, you too will become nothing more than another disaster statistic…eventually.

The post The Domino Effect of Disasters appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

How to Combat Stress in Short and Long-Term Emergencies

A catastrophic event can be extremely hard on the body; mentally and physically. Since not all emergencies are the same, it is important to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal stress. Everyone’s body is made differently, so are our minds. In this article, we will go over how to identify indicators of stress that can be reduced by using certain techniques.

In the Infantry, we receive training called “MRT” (Master Resiliency Training). This training allows us to use different techniques to combat the stresses that occur in our everyday lives, as well as stresses we encounter overseas. Remember, certain techniques may not be as effective as others for different people. Pick and choose what works best for you, there will be plenty.

As a prepper, your job is to prepare for the worst possible outcomes. In order to be effective in doing so, you need to know what tools to use so you don’t break down when SHTF. There are multiple scenarios that can cause long and short-term stress that you need to prepare for. Some involving post-collapse scenarios, and some involving things that could happen without a collapse. Here are some examples of scenarios that could cause stress as a prepper:

  • Having your bug out bag stolen.
  • Missing children after a catastrophic event.
  • Being late for work.
  • The initial impact of a catastrophic event.

adult stressed pixabay

How Stress Affects the Brain

In this section, we won’t go too far into the neuroscience jargon (as it can be hard to remember). Instead, we will break it down, in depth, to explain how long-term stress can have long-lasting effects on your brain. Your brain is composed of “gray matter” and “white matter” –  both play a vital role in how your mind functions.

The gray matter in your brain is made up of nerve cell bodies that are packed together. They oversee vital functions such as decision-making, thinking, and computing different alternatives to your choices. The white matter is made up of “axons” which make a network of fibers that connect neurons and allow the flow of communication throughout your brain. Any damage to these areas (which can come from improper coping of stress) can cause severe long-term effects to neural functions such as sleep, learning, mood-disorders, eating habits, etc. What could cause such damage to your mental functions is (you guessed it) long-term stress.

When you experience short-term stressful situations, your brain naturally reacts either one of two ways. This reaction is called “fight or flight”, meaning when you encounter extreme stress, your mind has two main reactions to choose from. One of them is to run away, or avoid confronting the stress. This reaction is called “flight”. The other reaction you might take is called “fight”, meaning you confront the stress head-on. Think of when you get into an argument with a stranger. Do you become the aggressor, or do you walk away?

Long-term stress can lead to your brain developing a constant “fight or flight” mentality, leaving you paranoid over small things that would seem irrelevant to most people. It can also lead to a variety of mental health issues (e.g., schizoid-affective disorder, major depression with or without suicidal ideation). PTSD is another effect that stress has on the brain. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be deadly, because of the high suicide rate associated with it. You can see now why combating stress and developing resiliency is so important, especially for a prepper.

How Stress Affects the Body

Physical reactions to stress are more noticeable to the outside world than emotional ones, so it’s easier to spot the symptoms before they get worse. Some symptoms are well known, like sweaty palms, “butterflies” in your stomach, blurred vision, and an increased heart rate. These symptoms aren’t lethal, or even dangerous by any means. However, prolonged stress can cause some serious issues.

Long-term effects of extreme stress on the body can cause a wide-variety of issues such as weight loss (or weight gain depending on the person), low sex-drive, low energy, even skin dryness. When your body releases hormones related to stress, your skin can become dry and less radiant (which is superficial, however can be a nuisance).

If you do not combat stress, your physical performance will suffer greatly. You will lose focus, and get tunnel-vision (narrowing of your peripheral vision). This can cause you to miss your shots if you’re in a firefight, or even lead to making a deadly decision. Recognizing your symptoms is the first step in combating them. If you know what your body is doing, you can ease your mind by telling yourself that it is just a natural reaction.

Short-Term Stress

This type of stress can be categorized many ways. To simplify it, we’ll give you some examples such as a fight (verbal or physical), car accident (non-fatal), or small natural disasters like a minor wildfire, tornado, earthquake, or flood. Most symptoms you’ll notice from short-term stresses are physical, most of which are superficial.

To combat these symptoms, you need to first familiarize yourself with them. The saying “knowledge is power” is very true, as the more you learn about what stress does to your body, the more control you’ll have over it. Make sure you do not obsess over controlling these symptoms, however, because you cannot control everything.

stressed man

Long-Term Stress

This type of stress is where things can get really complicated, as exposure to long-term stress without proper coping mechanisms can have serious side-effects. Some examples of long-term stress are the aftermath of major weather emergencies, a catastrophic global event such as an economic collapse, seeing or being a victim of a violent crime, or a war in your country.

Here’s the good news; you’re a prepper (or at least starting), so you’ve already won half the battle. Being prepared for life-changing events can mitigate the stress that affects you in a big way. Most people like to be in control of an outcome. When that control is taken from them, they have a difficult time reacting to it in a healthy manner.

If you don’t develop resiliency, or at least use techniques to help combat stress felt over a long period of time, you can develop serious psychological and physical issues. That’s why it’s important to learn techniques that you can use to your advantage. Another great thing about learning these techniques is they give you a certain amount of control back in your life.

Master Resiliency Training

As I said in the beginning of this article, every Infantryman is taught MRT at some point in their career. The purpose of MRT is to help us recognize things that trigger stress and use techniques we learn to help us cope with it. I am not a certified MRT instructor. However, I can provide what I’ve learned to help you.

Tip – there are many courses on the internet that may help you combat stress. Be careful though, because some are just opinions, and aren’t based off factual research. Using the wrong methods to cope with stress can hurt you more than help you.

Be the Tennis Ball, Not the Egg

This term is used often in MRT – and for a good reason. It means being able to bounce back when thrown at a hard obstacle in life like the tennis ball; don’t break upon impact like egg. Whenever something stressful happens in life, you need to be able to withstand the initial blow. Most of the time, the first “impact” of stress can be the worst, so be able to bounce back.

Sometimes, you may not feel the effects of a traumatic event until more time has passed. Everybody is different, so don’t think just because you handle situations differently, your mind is a mess. Know that once you feel the initial effects of stress, emotions can go crazy. It’s perfectly normal and it’s important that you understand that.

The 5 Stages of Grief

Not everyone goes through these steps in order. You might even skip some of these steps one time, and experience them in another. However, these steps are a common occurrence, so it’s important to recognize them so you can take control over what you’re feeling. If you know that what your feeling is normal, it helps you generalize what you’re going through and use methods to help you cope with those feelings.

  1. Denial and Isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Whenever a major event happens (or sometimes even minor) that causes stress in your life, you will go through the stages of grief without even realizing it. Think of it this way, if you’ve ever gotten a call saying that somebody close to you has died, your initial reaction was probably denial. It’s how you handle these stages that determine how they will affect you mentally and physically.

When you’re going through denial, it is best to remind yourself to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In doing so, you’re telling yourself that “yes, this happened”, and you don’t have to spend too long in this stage so you can move on. Staying in denial can cause your mind to accidentally train itself to reject bad news, making it hard to use decision-making necessary for a post-collapse environment.

Anger can lead you down a destructive path that will ultimately end in your undoing. It’s okay to feel angry about something, what’s important is how you project this anger. If you feel like you’re going to “explode”, try using some of the methods in this article to calm yourself down. Projecting anger physically is a very unhealthy way to cope with it, and will cause others to avoid you. As a prepper, you need people on your side to increase your chances of survival.

Bargaining will make you look weak, so avoid projecting this emotion. When SHTF and you end up going through these stages, bargaining can cost you valuable time that you’ll need to plan for the next step. It’s best to tell yourself “what’s done is done, there’s no going back” or something along those lines, so you can push yourself closer to acceptance.

Depression comes in many forms, but the most common form of depression is how we all view it; simply being sad. No matter what anyone’s told you, it’s okay to cry. Don’t spend too long in this stage, otherwise you may cost yourself time and energy.  You need to move forward from what has happened. If you find that when you’re in this stage you spend too much time in it, let yourself cry and be comforted. Once it’s done, get back up on your horse, and move on.

Acceptance is the best stage of grief (obviously), because you’re finally over the long (or short) road you’ve been going down to overcome what’s happened. You need to realize, however, that the stages of grief can repeat without any warning. If this happens, take control of what’s to come. Remember, you know the stages now, so recognize them when they happen and take control.

Hunt the “Good Stuff”

Hunting the good stuff means that in any negative situation, there are multiple positives that can be observed (no matter how hard they are to find). When you find yourself in the self-loathing mindset, make yourself find at least three positive things that revolve around your given situation. Don’t focus on the negative aspects of a situation, it’s extremely counter-productive and time consuming.

Here’s an extremely difficult situation, for example:

Your house got destroyed by a fire, you and your family have lost everything, even the items you’ve stocked up on for when SHTF. This situation seems like there can be no positive things that could be found, right? Wrong. As I said, there are positive things you can pull out of even the darkest of situations. Here are three positives that could come from this scenario.

  1. This gives you and your family a chance to start over, and spend time together to strengthen your bond, making you much closer as a family.
  2. It gives you an excuse to buy more guns (what’s not to love about that).
  3. It teaches you to appreciate the little things as you rebuild your life.

Hunting the good stuff isn’t making up things that aren’t true to help you imagine a better situation. It’s meant to make you do what it means… hunt the good stuff. No matter how bleak your situation looks, remember that there’s always a silver lining at the end of the path that you’re on. MRT isn’t about the cliché “stress ball” that you squeeze repeatedly, it’s about using legitimate mental techniques to combat the effects of stress on your body and mind.

Wrap-Up

You’ve already heard other well-known techniques like squeezing a ball, taking deep breaths, or lifting weights. My articles are not meant to reiterate what you already know and make you read more just to say at the end “I already knew that”. Some of you might have already known about these techniques, but the ones I listed are talked about less in common conversations.

The worst thing you can do when you encounter stress (long or short-term), is pretend that it doesn’t exist. This method only delays the inevitable and usually makes the effects worse when you do feel them. You need to face what causes you stress head-on and recognize your symptoms. Otherwise, you’ll be living in a world of fantasy that will one day crash down on you.

Depression is one of the more serious side-effects of stress (both short and long-term). It is one of the world’s leading causes of suicide, so you should focus on digging yourself out of that hole if you’re in it, no matter how deep it is. Know that there are people who care about you, even if your mind tells you that there’s not. Talk to them, and if they don’t tell you what you want to hear, it’s probably because it’s what you need to hear.

The post How to Combat Stress in Short and Long-Term Emergencies appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

Survival Knots you Should Know

Survival can easily depend on the strength of a knot. A climber, a sailor, a diver with a lifeline, all live and die by their knots. Here is a list of the most useful knots, and some more advanced stuff which will come in handy as you progress through your survival training, and making your own gear.

Before you go elsewhere, yes this list is longer than others on the internet, and this is intentional. All you gear-junkies out there know the value of having the right tool for the job, and knowledge weighs nothing. The old adage ‘if you can’t tie a knot, just tie a lot’ is great until you need a knot which will save your life, but don’t know how to make it.

Anatomy of a Knot

Anatomy of a Knot

Ropework, like everything else, has its own specialist jargon. Obviously this isn’t too useful in some situations (like when you’re the only one who understands it), but if you’re talking to someone who really knows their stuff (most sailors and climbers) it’s really worth it. The picture above displays the component parts of a knot and associated jargon.

A Note on Materials

There are a lot of different materials for knots out there. Before anything else, you should know that ‘rope’ is a term technically denoting a raw material, before it is cut, whipped / taped or given a purpose. ‘Line’ is the technical term for what rope becomes once it has been cut or given a purpose.

Ropes of different materials and different constructions have different attributes. The three main types are: ‘laid’ (which most people would think of twisted, made up of different ‘strands’), ‘braided’ (what it sounds like), and ‘kernmantle’ (which is made up of a strong ‘core’, surrounded by a braided ‘jacket’, which provides a good exterior surface for tying) Paracord is a kernmantle rope. All of these can be referred to as cord, or line, or rope. Yes, it is confusing and ambiguous

Bends

A bend is any knot which is used to securely connect the ends of two pieces of line. The difference tends to be in which type of line is being joined to what, as different materials and thicknesses of line interact differently.

Reef Knot (or Square Knot)

2 Reef Knot

The Reef knot (also called the Square Knot) is a bend used for securely fastening together two pieces of rope of equal diameter and the same type. It’s a very strong knot, but also easy to undo, and should be your first call for joining lines.

Sheet Bend (and Double Sheet Bend)

3 Sheet Bend

The Sheet Bend (and its variation, the Double Sheet Bend) is a bend used to join the ends of two pieces of line which would slip out of any other bend, because they are of such different types. For example, it’s often used in fishing, to secure a thin liner or monofilament to a heavier line (though it is shown here with line of constant thickness, for the sake of demonstration).

The Double Sheet Bend in particular is useful for joining lines where strength is of the utmost importance, or a very slim line to a very thick one, where even a treble or quadruple (just add more wraps for each) bend may be a good idea.

Carrick Bend

4 Carrick Bend

The carrick bend is primarily a suspension knot, used to connect lines running vertically. This means that it’s often used by fishiermen for lines left in the water for a long period, and in net making.

Surgeon’s knot

5 Surgeon s Knot

The Surgeon’s knot is probably the most versatile knot on this page. It joins two line ends of similar thickness, simply by tying two intersecting overhand knots

Hitches

Hitches are knots which are tied around something, a post, column, tree-branch etc. They are most commonly used for holding a load to the post, such as a boat to a bollard, or a horse to a tree. They are not to be confused with lashings, which hold multiple posts/sticks etc together, although often the best way to secure the line to one of those posts in order to  begin the lashing is to use a hitch of some kind. In general, the standing end is attached (probably also with some kind of hitch) to the load, then the working end is attached to the post with a hitch as well.

Round Turn and two Half-Hitches

6 Round Turn and two Half Hitches

This is a very strong knot. Easy to tie, and can be strengthened still further by adding more half hitches to the load bearing end. The downside is that it takes (comparatively) a long time to tie and untie, and is quite bulky when done.

Clove Hitch

7 Clove Hitch knot

This is the ideal knot for tying around a post, when the line then do something else close by. The most common use is for starting lashings, as you’ll see in that section. The Clove hitch can be used a binding knot, for example to secure a bundle together, but isn’t particularly strong for that. A timber hitch is probably a better bet in that case. There are three common methods of tying the Clove Hitch:

Using the end of the line:

Using two loops:

Using two half hitches:

Timber Hitch

8 Timber Hitch Knot

The great advantage of the Timber Hitch is that it only remains strong while under tension. This means that even after heavy use (for dragging, rigging etc.), it can be easily untied. This knot is mostly useful for securing bundles of wood, or tying to a post where the use of tension is appropriate to the task.

Bowline

9 Bowline Knot

Technically, this is not a hitch, actually being categorised as a loop-type knot. I include it with the hitches because in practical terms it is most often tied around something to which it is to be secured, so in practice is used as a hitch.

Traditionally, the knot’s name is pronounced BO-Lin, though which is the correct pronunciation will probably never move beyond a campfire disagreement. The knot is fantastically useful as a loop, because it will keep the same tension as it was tied with, regardless of how hard it is pulled. Pulling the first bight off the standing end will break the knot immediately, making it very easy to untie. It is shown slightly loosened here, because of all the knots here, the bowline is the most famously difficult to tie.

Highwayman’s Hitch (also called the Siberian Hitch)

10 Highwayman s Hitch Knot

It’s really important to know that there are very many variations of this knot, I present here the one I was taught first (probably because it was the only one my scout leader knew). Its also called the Siberian Hitch. Supposedly this knot was independently invented by Siberian horsemen, who needed a knot which could be tied and untied quickly to secure a horse to a branch, without removing their mittens.

Lashings

Lashings are knots which are used to secure two (or more) posts / columns to each other, in different configurations. These are great for slightly more advanced campcraft skills. For example, a good cooking setup can be built with a green stick, balanced in the crooks of two tripods, one at either end of a long fire. Even better, make one end of the fire bigger and hotter, and have a gradiated cooking system, built with seven sticks and two pieces of line. Lashings are also intrinsic to construction of good shelters and buildings if you plan to stay anywhere medium to long term. There are only three lashings you are ever likely to really need:

Square Lashing (Also called the Diagonal Lashing, not to be confused with the Square Knot, another name for the Reef Knot)

11 Square Lashing Knots

The Square Lashing is used to secure two rod-shaped things (branches, gun barrels, knife handles, whatever) to each other at right-angles. In the picture (though it’s obscured by the actual square lashing) I used a clove hitch to secure the line to the lower rod, then go over the higher rod, under the lower, etc., in a circle. The ‘frapping turns’ (the tightening / cinching turns at the end, before you tie the working end off) are very important and not to be left out. They tighten the knot, keeping everything at the right angle, which is important if you don’t want your house to fall over.

Tripod Lashing

12 Tripod Lashing Knot

This lashing is used to construct tripods. Once again, though you can see it better here, I have used a Clove Hitch to begin the lashing. Once the knot has been tied, pick up the non-tied end of the middle rod and pull it over the knot, twisting the lines between the rods around each other. Depending on how tight you have tied your lashing, you may be able to keep twisting for a full turn, or maybe just a half. Either way, the outer two rods should meet at the top, and the feet of all three should be more or less equally spaced.

Shear Lashing

13 Shear Lashing Knot

The Shear Lashing is used to secure two rods (or something to a rod) together inline. This might not seem too useful at first, until you consider how you will lash a spearhead to its handle, or how you will make a straight pole of great length. The shear lashing isn’t particularly difficult, and needs to be secured with a clove or timber hitch at the beginning and end.

The only danger is when smooth or potentially slippery materials are used (for example, paracord being used to tie a shiny blade to a smooth pole). In this instance, it’s a good idea to provide a better gripping surface for the lashing, by roughing up the wood with a knife, or using rougher line, such as hemp. A good rule of thumb is that more natural, more dry  materials tend to be rougher and ‘grippier’ but also more likely to irritate. On the other hand, man-made materials are generally stronger than natural ones.

 

Other

These are the knots which defy classification (the monkey fist), or which are not really knots. These are the knots I felt had to be included in the list, but didn’t really fit anywhere else.

Simple (or Common) Whipping

14 Simple Whipping Knot

The Simple or Common Whipping is a good way to finish the end of lines to stop them unravelling, or a very quick (though not as strong) substitute for the shear lashing, it is also excellent for wrapping handles.

Figure of Eight

15 Figure of Eight Knots

This is a very commonly known knot, that deserves mention because of its great utility in climbing. Tied on its own in the middle of a line, it’s a useful stopper knot, tied on a bite, it makes a loop which will only strengthen as it is pulled, making it great for climbing or abseiling.

Monkey Fist

16 Monkey Fist Knot

It would be criminal to make a list of survival knots without including the Monkey Fist. Certainly, it is not particularly useful for much, but it’s satisfying to make, and can (if tied around a decent weight such as a ball bearing) make a good self-defence tool when swung on a long line. Another good use is a fishing weight if tied around a stone, or a fancy floater if made around a piece of cork or buoyant wood.

Survival Bracelets

17 Survival Bracelets

Knotwork Survival Bracelets (the weave pictured, which is the most common, is the Square Knot Weave, or Cobra Stitch) are great. They look great, they often support a good cause (Help for Heroes in the UK sell them). But it is important to realise that there is a common misconception that they can be unravelled in an instant, to save lives, guaranteed.

The first problem with this is that (unless the bracelet is made with the Slatt’s method [see next knot]), they are generally very fiddly and long-winded to untie, and can’t really store that much line, compared with perhaps a survival belt, or just having a coil of paracord in your bag (see last knot).

The second is that paracord (which they are most often made of) is a thin, slippery cord, not particularly suited to life saving. It’s certainly better than nothing, but a thick alpine cord or similar is much preferable. Survival bracelets are nice and can also include other useful stuff (like a handcuff key in a clasp), just don’t stake your life on them. Having said that, here’s a video about how to make them:

Slatt’s Survival Belt

18 Slatt's Survival Belt Knot

The Slatts survival belt is the answer to the survival bracelet’s problems. It unravels in a few seconds, can store a large amount of line in a compact format, and looks good. My survival belt (pictured) was made with 80 feet of paracord, woven into a Slatt’s belt on a clasp which contains a hidden handcuff key. This setup is great for urban survival but for the more bushcraft minded, the clasp taken from something like this might be preferable, with a compass and a fire striker.

Storage

19 Storage

Coiling line to store it is probably the most important thing you can learn right now. Being able to quickly access your line makes life a lot easier if you need to get to it in a survival situation. There are a few different ways you can do, the easiest being a simple soil and wrap:

Taking it Further…

This list will give you the important basics and some more advanced knots, but is by no means exhaustive. There’s the fisherman’s bend, the double and treble versions of many of these knots, splicing, the sheepshank, the rolling hitch, the sailmaker’s whipping, various sinnetts and weaves, the list could easily go on forever.

If you’re interested, your first port of call should ideally be a good knots book. Any well reviewed one is a good start, but for truly encyclopedic information, the Ashley Book of Knots known as the ABOK) is the only way to go. It uses a reference number system which is commonly used to refer to unusual knots, which may not even have names. After that, here are some blogs and websites which I can thoroughly recommend:

  • Animated Knots, a website with animated instructions for hundreds of knots, divided by type and use. Incredibly useful, and free.
  • Stormdrane a really brilliant knotworker’s blog, an excellent source of inspiration and learning especially about decorative knots.
  • Frayed Knot Arts, the very best website out there about complex ‘fancywork’, decorative knot work generally composed of very fine line in many complex knots.

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Foxholes in Tactical Defense

Foxholes are a simple, yet very effective method of concealing your position, as well as defending it. There are three levels of foxholes which provide their own purpose, as well as protection. The first level is called a “hasty fighting position”, the second level is a standard foxhole, and the third is a fortified fox hole. Digging a foxhole isn’t very difficult, but it’s time consuming. Make sure you budget your time so that you can spend between 1-5 hours (depending on the level) preparing your foxhole.

Foxholes are a great way to defend your property from potential looters when SHTF. If you have a prepping group, you can dig foxholes around your property and rotate in shifts pulling security where they are located. This way, you don’t have to wait for a threat to come to your house, you can stop the threat before it even gets there. A great location to place a “home defense foxhole” is near the end of your driveway, if you have a long one.

Another great location to dig a foxhole is near your bug out location. This way you can safely recon your bug out area in case there are any looters who found it post-collapse. The worst thing you can do when SHTF is panic, this makes you prone to mistakes that could cost you your life. When you’re on your way to your bug out area, it’s best to check it out from a safe distance, in a safe foxhole.

Hardware

The best tool to dig a foxhole is a United States Army surplus “E-Tool”. The E-Tool is a very lightweight, very versatile piece of equipment used for cutting, as well as digging. The E-Tool has a folding capability so it can break down to the size of about 10”x6” (depending on the model). This is a great feature because it can be easily stored in your BOB, and it’s so lightweight (1-3lbs) so you’ll hardly feel the added weight.

To use the E-Tool, fold it open, and screw it together with the turn-dial attached to it. Most newer E-Tools have a serrated edge on one side. This is an excellent feature because you can hack down tree branches for firewood or to fortify your foxhole (we’ll get into that), and cut roots while you dig. If you can, get an E-Tool with this feature, because you will more than likely run into roots when you’re digging your foxhole.

There are other tools you can use to dig your foxhole if you don’t have an E-Tool. While not as effective, they can prove useful when you don’t have room to carry an E-Tool. With this being said, I still highly recommend purchasing an E-Tool and putting it in your BOB. Digging a hole without a shovel can prove to be very challenging, so do yourself a favor and get an E-Tool. The following items are useful for digging your foxhole in case you don’t have an E-Tool.

  • Gardening spade
  • Hatchet
  • Your hands

Hasty Fighting Position

A hasty fighting position is a shallow foxhole that is dug very quickly, usually when you are short on time (when you spot an enemy in the distance that you weren’t expecting, for example). Hasty fighting positions generally take no longer than 10 mins to dig, and can be very effective if done right. Tip – when digging a foxhole, screw your E-Tool in so that the shovel head is 90-degrees from the handle. This way you can hack at the ground like a pickaxe to break the dirt up faster.

To dig a hasty fighting position, configure your E-Tool so that the head is 90-degrees from the handle in an L shape. Then hack at the ground like a pickaxe to break up the dirt, it should be roughly a foot longer than your body length. Once the ground is broken up, the fastest way to dig down (a hasty should be at least 2 feet deep) is to use the 90-degree configuration and dig with it like a dog, throwing the dirt behind you between your legs.

Once the hasty is dug, curve the part where your head will be at a 45-degree angle. This allows you to lay in the prone comfortably while pulling security in that direction. Then, grab a thick log and place it at the head of the hasty to provide extra cover from small arms fire. If you can’t find a log, that’s fine, it’s not necessary to make a hasty fighting position effective. You can also sleep in your hasty (though it’s not recommended), if you place your head where your feet would be while pulling security. This is so if the threat presents itself again, you can simply sit up and engage your targets.

The Standard Foxhole

There are many ways to dig a standard foxhole, however I find that the following method is the most effective. They take much longer to dig compared to a hasty fighting position, but they offer far more protection. The standard foxhole takes between 1-3 hours to dig, but can be shorter if you have more than one person to assist you. These types of foxholes can accommodate 2 people comfortably, and is more effective with a 2-man team. This is so one person can pull security, while the other rests.

To dig a standard foxhole, you need to break the dirt up (look in the above section to learn how) in a 6-foot circle. Once the dirt is broken up, start digging. For the standard foxhole, it is recommended that you use the standard shovel configuration on your E-Tool because you’ll be digging deeper. You need to dig down to the tallest person’s height, plus another 6 inches after that. This is so you can stand up in your foxhole comfortably without exposing yourself too much while shooting.

Once your hole is completed, take some of the dirt you dug up, and make a step along the front of your foxhole so you can step onto it to see higher if need be. Also, dig a couple of steps into the dirt so you can hastily crawl out in case SHTF and you need to relocate. Once your hole is complete, position some vegetation carefully around your foxhole so you can conceal yourself from your flanks. Make sure once you conceal it, you can still see in every direction.

The Fortified Foxhole

This is the most fortified, effective method to dig your foxhole. If done right, it can protect you and your home from looters, or other threats post-collapse. Being that it’s the most fortified, it takes the longest to dig. A great method to use this type of foxhole for, is digging them pre-collapse so that you have a position to be secure in for a few days while you are on the move. The fortified foxhole is the same depth and width as the standard foxhole, but with some minor adjustments.

The fortified foxhole has three added measures of security compared to the standard foxhole. The first level is adding a hard-structure above the hole, the second is added camouflage to help keep yourself hidden, and the third is traps set around strategic areas in the vicinity of the foxhole. Most preppers with a house in a rural environment will want at least two fortified foxholes pre-made so they can use them when they bug out.

The first foxhole should be within 200m of your residence. This is so you can get there fast, and keep security on your house at a safe distance, but close enough so you can engage your target effectively (see my article “How to Shoot Like a Sniper”). The second foxhole should be at the halfway point between your house, and your long-term bug out location. This is so you can have a safe place to rest between bugging out of your house, and relocating to your bug out area. Another reason for this, is so you can recon the area around your new bug out location in case it’s been discovered by potentially hostile people.

Fortification

To add above fortification to your completed foxhole, gather branches that are longer than the width of your foxhole by at least one foot. Then, gather some thicker branches or logs of a shorter length. Place the shorter branches or logs in a diagonal pattern on 4 corners of your foxhole. There should be at least 4 spaces that you will be able to see out of around your foxhole (north, east, south, west). Then, place the long branches on top of the shorter ones. Make sure you use two layers at least, because you won’t be able to successfully put the branches in a complete row due to the spaces. This also adds security.

Once the beginning stages of the fortification are complete, put a tarp (or another waterproof material) over the branches on top of your foxhole. Then shovel some of the dirt (at least 1 foot thick) over the tarp. This adds light waterproofing for light rain, and creates a structure capable of sustaining light ordinance. Once the dirt is piled on top, gather vegetation from the surrounding area and place it in the dirt on top of your foxhole in such a way that it looks natural.

Camouflaging

To camouflage the area around your foxhole, you will need to walk at least 100m away from it. Then, look in the direction of your foxhole and see if you notice any obvious mistakes you’ve made in concealing it. If you have, make adjustments as needed. The more natural your fortified foxhole appears, the less attention you’ll draw to it, and the less chance you have of someone discovering it before you can use it.

A great way to camouflage the area around your foxhole, is by uprooting small bushes from another area, and planting them strategically in open areas around your fighting position. Don’t attempt to conceal it too much though, because then you won’t be able to see as clearly at a distance while you scan your area for threats.

Strategic Traps

Traps are an incredibly effective way to further protect you in your foxhole, if done correctly. There are multiple types of traps to use when protecting yourself from other people, the two most effective ones are pits, and sound traps. Both are very easy to make, and take minimal time to set up. You can choose to make your pit trap lethal, however it’s unnecessary.

Pitfall Traps

To make a pitfall trap, you’ll need burlap big enough to cover a 3-foot-wide hole, and an E-Tool. Dig your pit just like you would dig a fox hole, but make it at least 7-10 feet deep. This is so whoever falls victim to the trap must use great effort to free themselves. Once the hole is dug, if you wish to make it a lethal trap, sharpen some branches and stick them straight up from the ground. If you don’t, simply leave it be. Place the burlap over the hole, and shovel a small amount of dirt over the edges to help hold it in place. Then, place some light foliage over the burlap to help conceal it. Once the victim steps on it, they will fall deep enough to injure their leg and take them out of the fight.

Place these traps at strategic entry and exit points (A.K.A. “choke points”) around your foxhole, this helps keep you more secure at times of vulnerability like sleeping. There is no minimum for the number of traps you should have, but make sure you leave a small marker somewhere near the trap so you can remember where they are. Nothing is more embarrassing than falling victim to one of your own traps.

Sound Traps

To make a sound trap, one of the most effective ways is to use high strength fishing line, and a “confetti popper”. These poppers are just loud enough to hear within 50m of your foxhole and will alert of you of possible dangers coming your way. Tape the confetti popper to a stake with the string facing a 45-degree angle downwards and towards where your tripwire is going to be. Place the stake in the ground so that the popper is about as high up as the average human ankle. Next, tie some fishing line to the string, and run the wire out no more than 5 feet long.

Then, tie your tripwire to a sturdy object like a tree, or a firm stake in the ground. Make sure your tripwire has no slack, it needs to be very tight for this to work. Once your victim triggers the tripwire, it will pull the string on your confetti popper and create a mildly-loud bang. This will startle whoever sets off the tripwire, and alert you at the same time. Since confetti poppers have a history of being faulty at times, make sure you place numerous sound traps along your perimeter.

Tip – place one after your pit trap in so that in case they miss the pit, they’ll set off your sound trap. Then, place another sound trap 10m away from the first one.

Special Consideration

There are many types of dirt (clay, mud, frozen earth, rocky, sand, snow), so you need to take into consideration these things when digging your foxhole. Different climates also offer different types of soil (southern states in the US have more clay, northern states often have frozen earth in the winter, etc.), so plan accordingly when you set out to dig your foxhole.

Clay

Clay can be difficult to dig in, it’s much heavier than regular soil, and can be more time consuming to dig through. If you run into clay, simply configure your E-Tool into an L-shape and hack at it like a pickaxe to break it up. After the clay is broken up, you can simply dig it out. You can also reuse that clay to pack in a step to get out of your foxhole, because clay is easily moldable and sturdy when packed.

Mud

After it rains, more than likely the dirt in your area will turn to mud. If at all possible, wait until the soil dries before you dig your foxhole. Mud is very difficult to dig into, because you’ll have muddy water seeping into your hole as you dig. If you must dig into mud, make sure you throw the mud far away after you’ve dug it up. Mud should be avoided to dig into if possible, save yourself the trouble.

Frozen Earth

In the colder months, the soil around you will freeze making it very difficult to dig into. Frozen earth is as hard as a rock, and you might even break the tool you’re using to dig when you’re in the process of it. If you’re around your property and digging your foxhole, use a pickaxe to break up the soil. If you’re not near your property and you’ve already bugged out, a hasty fighting position might be your best bet for a foxhole, since they don’t take long to dig.

Rocky Soil

In some areas, especially around mountains or streams, the dirt can be filled with larger rocks. This can slow your digging process, but won’t stop it completely. To dig in a rocky-area, do your best to navigate around the rocks as you dig. If you run into a boulder in the ground, dig around it or choose another spot to dig your foxhole.

Sand

Sandy areas can be difficult to dig in. Due to the sand being very fine, the slightest movements can bring more sand into the hole you’ve already dug. While the first few feet of sand is very loose, the next layer down is usually wet and clay-like. If sand is your only option to dig in, place logs (or larger branches) around the perimeter of your foxhole. This helps you keep unwanted sand from falling back into the hole you’ve worked so hard to dig.

Snow

Snow can be your worst enemy when digging a foxhole. It offers little to no protection for gunfire, and when it melts it’s gone forever. Try to avoid using snow to dig a foxhole if possible. What good is a foxhole, if it doesn’t protect you from bullets? If there’s nothing but snow around you, put in the extra work and dig into the frozen earth.

Wrap-Up

Foxholes are an imperative security method if you’re going to be in the wilderness when SHTF. Knowing the different types of foxholes, and in which situations you can use them, can potentially save your life (or property). Make sure that if you make a foxhole, try to make it on the high ground. This is for two reasons, if it rains, the water won’t drain down into your hole. Another reason, is if you do get into a firefight, fighting high to low is much easier than fighting low to high.

Those who have the high ground, have the higher chance of winning.

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Recovering from a Hurricane

If you’ve never been in the path of a hurricane, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for its victims. If you are facing the need to recover and rebuild from a hurricane for the first time, this article will help give you an inkling of what to expect.

It will also shed light into the hurricane recovery process for those of you who want to be armed with the resources and knowledge to provide help and support either monetarily or physically to victims. To that end, we’ll shed some insight into the damage hurricanes can do and then cover the basics of how to begin to recover from a hurricane.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas and surrounding areas in August of 2017, the amount of devastation and the amount of water was almost unimagined.

A category 3 Hurricane in heavily populated cities of Texas was the stuff of nightmares.

It dredged up memories of other hurricanes, including Katrina, Sandy, and Andrew that left their scars on our people and our land in recent years. And then just as people everywhere rallied to support Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, Hurricane Irma reared her ugly head.

Projected early on to become a category 5 hurricane, Irma threatened to destroy everything and everyone in her path from the Virgin Islands up through Florida and even into the Southern United States.

Evacuate, wait to evacuate, or don’t evacuate?

Many people couldn’t decide immediately. Floridians and their southern island neighbors have faced hurricanes before. They are tough and have the fortitude to hunker down and weather the fiercest of storms. But Hurricane Irma was projected to be a category 5 hurricane and the eye was going to pass close to and in some cases directly over U.S. soil.

State and local governments ordered mandatory evacuations in some places and strongly urged voluntary evacuations for other Florida areas. With the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas still fresh in everyone’s mind, over 6 million people heeded orders and fled in the face of Hurricane Irma in early September 2017. Yes, there were some who stayed put. They chose to either stay in their home or accepted the fact that they weren’t financially or physically able to evacuate. But for the most part, people fled the path of the storm.

As Hurricane Irma downgraded to a cat 1 and became a tropical storm, hurricane refugees started to make plans to return to their homes further south. Many were not sure what they would find. The Virgin Islands were hit worst, the Keys, Miami, Jacksonville, Naples, and many other cities and towns were flooded, sustained wind damage, or were without power. Rescue workers arrived to help evacuate nursing homes, elderly home owners, and those who weren’t willing or able to flee before the storm.

With Irma, power wasn’t predicted to be restored for several weeks but people were desperate to see where things stood for their own neighborhoods and homes. The Caribbean Islands were all but destroyed and many lives were lost. Resources were strained partly because Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas were still cleaning up and preparing to rebuild. Many Texans and others left their homes to help victims in Florida, returning the help they’d gotten themselves just a short time before.

It seems that once again, people regardless of background or origin pulled together to help one another survive a catastrophe. Due to early warnings, many lives were indeed spared. But once the hurricane passes and the immediate danger is over, how does one begin to recover and rebuild after a hurricane?

What to Expect in the First Several Days Following a Hurricane

First of all expect widespread and sporadic power outages in the area. Your neighborhood might not have power. The neighborhood three blocks away or even the next street or next house could have power if a generator was inadvertently left running. If you sheltered in place during a hurricane and you finally emerge from your shelter, it may be shocking at first. You may feel almost numb as you wade through dirty water that partially fills your home. Move cautiously through your home, especially water-filled rooms because of hidden obstacles beneath the water.

One of the first things you may notice when you leave your shelter location or open the front door is that streets and roads are still flooded partially or even completely flooded with water. If the water has receded, there may still be downed trees and debris blocking the roads and driveways. Many people, including friends and neighbors, may be temporarily homeless and dependent on shelters. National Guard, Marines, and other military and rescue workers may still be in the area clearing homes. Make sure they know you do not need rescued and be cautious not to become injured so that rescuers’ time and energy can be focused on people who need help to evacuate.

Damage to Expect After a Hurricane

As you return home and move through the flooded parts of your neighborhood there are many unpleasant conditions and even dangers that you may encounter:

  • Dead Animals and People
  • Smells from rotting food and/or death in the area
  • Desperate friends, neighbors, or strangers searching for resources
  • No identifiable points of reference
  • Debris left behind by receding water
  • Roads still impassable or littered with debris
  • Appliances scattered around, missing, damaged
  • Spoiled food
  • Water damage
  • Muddy floors and walls
  • Collapsed walls or floors due to water erosion
  • Mold will begin to grow–need masks for safety

Returning to Your Home the First Time

As you walk toward your home, be prepared for the water to get deeper and check for hidden debris and obstacles beneath the water. One easy way to do this is with a long branch or even several yardsticks bonded tightly together. If water gets too deep as you move toward your home, it may be best to return another day after water has receded farther.

Understand that you may have trouble finding identifiable points of reference such as street signs, landmark buildings, trees, etc. Avoid driving through standing water due to hidden debris. Never try to continue to return home through water that has any kind of moving current.

I watched hours of videos from hurricane victims detailing their experiences and one thing I noticed about the victims is that when they returned to their home that first time after the hurricane, many were completely unprepared for what they found. Many of them were so unprepared that all they could do is walk through, look around, and then leave.

If there is still standing water, your house will need to air out and the water drain away before you can stand to be in there to clean anything up. If it’s been more than a couple days or if weather has been muggy and warm, the smell of mildew in the house may be overpowering.

Dangers After a Hurricane

Dangers to be prepared for immediately after a hurricane include:

  • Possibly alligators/crocodiles, snapping turtles, snakes, floating fire ant colonies, or other unexpected predators in the water.
  • Gas/Fuel, oil, and other contaminants mixed into flood waters.
  • Spontaneous Sinkholes
  • Scared and Hungry Animals
  • Downed power lines or electrified water
  • Broken pipes, glass, and other broken metal beneath the water
  • Washed out bridges and roads
  • Fumes from chemicals in the septic
  • Mold

First Return Home Following a Hurricane

As you make your way back to your home after an evacuation, you may find you must park your vehicle several blocks away and walk in due to flood water that hasn’t yet completely receded. Depending on how long you wait to return to check your home, you may hear car alarms and horns going off due to abandoned cars being rocked by moving flood waters.

In some cases, you may hear home alarms going off, signaling that the storm damaged doors, windows, or the roof. Home alarms going off can also be a warning sign that looters are in or have been in the neighborhood. The whole experience of wading through water to get to your home can be a very eerie feeling.

Upon your first return home after the hurricane be prepared to:

  • Mark your garage door or outside of the house with the word SAFE so rescue workers know you are not in need of assistance and they can focus on other homes.
  • Document damaged items to provide to insurance company or victim’s relief organizations when asked.
  • Limit direct contact with flood water whenever possible by wearing chest-high waders and other protective gear.
  • Open windows in your home to let your house air out
  • Carry out any small but important items that remained dry and undamaged such as clothing, wall hanging photos or photo albums, important documents
  • Defend yourself against animal predators or desperate looters.

With water still standing in your home and in the streets, you won’t be able to do much more than the above suggestions until the water recedes. It’s not a trip to make alone if you can help it as it will be an emotional experience. As you look at the damage to your home, remind yourself that loved ones are safe and what you’re looking at is only “stuff” and it can be replaced or you can live without it if need be. Focus on saving any sentimental items that don’t seem to be damaged and carry them out in your dry bag or float them out in Rubbermaid tubs or trash cans. Return when water recedes to cleanup and start repairs.

Gear and Equipment Helpful During Rescues and Clean-Up

I’ve put together a suggested list of gear and equipment to have with you upon your first return home (when water may still be deep) and a second list of items to have on hand as you prepare to clean up and rebuild.

  • Flat Bottom or Pontoon Boats
  • An inflatable raft or kayak (wading through several blocks of water to get to your home will wear out your legs quickly)
  • Chest High Waders
  • Rain Jacket and hood or rain hat
  • Water Resistant backpack
  • Life Jackets (in case water gets deeper without warning)
  • First aid kit (just in case of a cut or puncture, etc.)
  • Waterproof bags or containers to carry out any immediately salvageable items
  • Walking stick to test water depth
  • Neon or black spray paint to mark your house safe or cleared.
  • Work Gloves
  • Pry Bar to open warped doors or windows to air out house
  • Flashlight or battery powered headlamps
  • Notebook and pen to make a list of serial and model numbers of damaged items
  • Go Pro action camera or other waterproof camera with head strap to document damages as you move through the house.
  • Cooler with Bag of Ice (if you froze a coin in a cup in advance so you will know your freezer didn’t lose power)

When Water Recedes/2nd Return to Home

Once you’ve seen the damage to your home on your first trip and the water has further receded so that you can get started on the actual clean up, there are some additional items that will come in handy. I’ve listed many of these suggestions below as documented from the stories of hurricane and flood victims:

  • High Riding Truck or even an ATV with Trailer
  • Pump or shop vac to remove any remaining standing water from rooms
  • Generator and fuel if your power is still out or hasn’t been cleared for use yet.
  • Industrial Fans
  • Rubbermaid Tubs
  • Rubber Trash Cans with Tight fitting, Lock down Lids
  • Flashlights, lanterns, and even head lamps for hands-free light of windowless rooms during clean-up if power is still out
  • Squeegee on a stick for pushing water out
  • Towels or other Absorbent Materials
  • Bleach or disinfectant wipes, scrub brushes, and other cleaning supplies including sturdy garbage bags
  • Rubber gloves, face masks with filter
  • Tarps
  • Bissell Carpet cleaner and an Upholstery Cleaner (use without cleaning solution to help suck out excess water from carpets and couches)
  • Plywood and tools to barricade the house once it’s cleaned out or in between cleanup days to prevent further looting.
  • Supplies for removing damaged drywall and for minor repairs (wrenches, hammer, screwdrivers, drill, prybar, sledge hammer, etc.)

Keep in mind that doors and windows may open partially but be hard to close again. If you plan to open them to survey damage or let the house air out, be prepared with supplies to secure the doors until you come back. This isn’t a guarantee but secured doors can help deter anyone from looting before you get back.

Tips to Organize Clean Up and Rebuild

  • Before starting any cleanup or repairs after a hurricane, make sure you have reviewed and completely understand what information and documentation your insurance company will need for any claims.
  • Turn power off before working in the home unless you have clearance from utility company that electrical systems are not damaged by the water.
  • Remove any remaining undamaged items as soon as possible. If you can’t get them out of the house, store them in Rubbermaid tubs or trash cans categorized by type of item or room they will go back into when repairs are finished.
  • Once undamaged items are removed clean out trash and ruined items room by room and put them into a dumpster at the curb, a waiting truck, or bag and box in a pile near the road to be hauled away later.
  • Once all trash and damaged items have been removed, go room by room to identify and list needed repairs.
  • Dip waterlogged photos or photos stuck together into a tub of really soapy water to get them to slide apart without tearing. Lay separated photos out to dry.

Drinking Water

When it comes to drinking water after a hurricane, you need to take extra precautions to ensure that your water has not been contaminated from storm runoff, leaked chemicals, decay, and debris. Use bottled water or filter and boil your water until public water has been cleared for drinking or well water has been tested for safety by a certified lab.

Mold

Standing water will begin to produce mold after several days to a week, depending on weather conditions. A dehumidifier can help dry things out and reduce the damp smell in your home. For additional help with mustiness, there are a variety of products such as these hanging moisture removal bags by Arm & Hammer or Damp Rid that can be used throughout the home. The quicker you dry out your house, the less mold you should have to deal with. Any walls, floors, and carpet that has gotten wet should be thoroughly inspected for mold and replaced as needed.

You can try using a carpet cleaning machine and upholstery cleaning machine without solution in it to suck out excess water from carpets and couches. For water, more than a half inch or so, use a wet/dry shop vac instead. Items such as appliances and wood furniture with mold or mildew should be scrubbed clean with bleach water or bleach wipes and then thoroughly air dried, in the sun if feasible, as soon as possible.

Mold and mildew can be very harmful to your health. Children, elderly, and anyone with respiratory or allergy issues can be more susceptible to the effects of mold and mildew. If anyone on the cleanup crew experiences symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, etc. they should move into fresh air immediately and refrain from helping until mold and mildew have been cleaned up.

For severe or prolonged cases of mold and mildew, seek the help of a professional who specializes in mold removal. Professional mold removal can be expensive so do what you can to get your home dried out and cleaned up as quickly as possible. If you continue to see signs that mold is still present or returning or if anyone in the house has unexplained coughing or other symptoms, seek a professional mold removal specialist immediately.

Prepare for Future Hurricanes or Other Disasters

Network Now with Neighbors

Get in touch with neighbors to create a communication network for emergencies. Meet monthly or even quarterly to discuss how to prepare, respond, and coordinate rescue and cleanup after future hurricanes or other events. Keep meetings short and focus on the best ways to keep those who are most vulnerable safe during a crisis.

Review Your Home (or Renter) Insurance Coverages

Make sure you know what kind of insurance coverage you have in the event of a hurricane. Know the difference between an extended replacement cost, guaranteed replacement, inflation guard, and an ordinance coverage for home damage. Make sure that any time limits, deductibles, or coverage limits are such that you are confident the insurance will be adequate.

Inventory all your belongings and make certain your insurance provides for proper coverage for those as well. The difference between replacement cost and actual cash value coverage for belongings is huge and it can be further devastating to realize after a natural disaster that you have the wrong coverage.

Hurricanes and other severe weather are considered acts of nature, make certain your policy covers each type of event and review any deductibles or policy limits or exceptions. Hurricane coverage frequently has a percentage deductible based on the total home insurance policy amount. If need be take out higher insurance coverage to lower this deductible.

When feasible, obtain additional insurance to ramp up your hurricane coverage. Add-ons such as additional living expenses (ALE) coverage, is designed to assist with extra living expenses you will have to deal with while your home is unlivable after a hurricane. Ask about and consider sewer backup coverage and flood insurance coverages if you are in a hurricane prone region. For more details on flood insurance, visit The National Flood Insurance program website. In fact, ask about coverages for each type of weather event because coverage can be very different for each event. Focus first on the types of events that occur most frequently in your area.

Prepare Now to Protect Against Future Hurricane Damage

Download the hurricane app to your smartphone to help you communicate your location in an emergency and first aid and navigation apps in case they are needed. Create an inventory list of valuable items in your home including large appliances and electronics and store it in the cloud or another safe location. Freeze a bottle or other container of water and place a quarter or another coin on top of the ice and replace the lid. This will help you to determine if food in your freezer thawed and then was refrozen during any future power outages. If the coin drops more than halfway in the container, food may be spoiled.

If you get warning a hurricane is coming, follow the usual storm safety steps by bringing outside items and pets inside, keeping gutters free of leaves and debris, and keeping your gas tank full of fuel at all times. Review your family’s emergency evacuation plan, keep your weather radio on and identify the nearest shelter location. Have hurricane shutters or plywood on hand and ready to install quickly. Put sentimental and other irreplaceable or valuable items in watertight plastic tubs on the highest pantry or closet shelves and nail the door shut.

While waiting for the hurricane to hit, fill your bathtub with water, take an ax and other supplies such as water, food, pet food and kennels or habitats, life jackets, blankets, and important documents to the attic or top level of your home. Use water tight storage containers for critical supplies and important documents, even in the attic. Label containers for quick access to critical supplies if you need to evacuate.

While waiting for the storm to hit or if you are ordered to evacuate, turn off utilities to the house or at least unplug appliances and electronics. Load pets and critical supplies into your vehicle. If time allows quickly pile wall hangings and anything else you’d hope will stay undamaged onto beds and the tops of dressers. Just getting them up off the floor may be enough to save them from damage if water levels are not severe.

There’s no way to ever be completely prepared for a hurricane, especially those like Irma. But with proper planning, you can improve your ability to ride out a hurricane or evacuate safely. And with the right gear, equipment, and knowledge, you can begin the process of recovering from a hurricane quickly and with the least amount of stress.

The post Recovering from a Hurricane appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

How to Explain Emergencies, Disasters, and Prepping to Kids

When it comes to our children, we want to do what’s best for them and protect them from serious harm at all costs. That’s our job as parents, right? To safeguard our kids and teach them to become responsible, functioning adults. But with all that’s happening in the world today, it’s become even harder to make sure kids are safe. There are more dangers than ever looming over our heads. And as preppers, we are more aware than ever of those dangers.

Unfortunately, though we may joke about wanting to do it, we know we can’t wrap our kids in bubble wrap to keep them safe. Not only is it impossible but it’s not healthy. They have to experience the world on their own in order to learn to become truly independent. And the reality is that as they get older we can’t always be there to protect them. So, the next best thing is to teach our kids how to protect themselves.

When it comes to how to explain emergencies, disasters, and prepping to kids, parents must walk a fine line. Tell your kids that sometimes bad things happen and although we can’t always stop bad things from happening, there are things we can do to protect ourselves and to get ready to react to those bad things when they happen.

If you explain too much to a child that isn’t ready, you can actually do more harm than good by creating extreme anxiety in your child. The goal isn’t to make your child afraid of the world. But if you don’t explain anything, your child could be caught in a situation that they are ill prepared for and may cost them their life. So how do you balance everything? How do you explain these things to your children so they can protect themselves without turning them into a basket case of nerves worrying about every little thing that could go wrong?

Evaluate Your Own Behavior in a Crisis

Think about how you respond on a daily basis to things that go wrong:

  • Are you terrified of spiders, snakes, dogs, loud noises, heights, etc.?
  • Are you frightened by extreme weather like tornadoes, earthquakes, or hurricanes?
  • Do you get angry and cuss or throw things when something breaks?
  • Do you blame others when things go wrong or do you take responsibility and figure out how to set things right?
  • Are you afraid of thunderstorms and lightning or do you sit in a chair on the porch and watch the awesome power of mother nature?
  • Do you have a plan in place so that you can act quickly and with confidence when something happens or do you plan to call 911 and wait to be rescued?
  • When a natural disaster or storm is predicted, do you run around in a panic trying to collect flashlights, batteries, cell phones, etc. or is everything organized and ready to go?
  • When you or a loved one gets hurt, do you panic, cry, or rush to the emergency room or do you have a comprehensive first aid kit on hand that you can pull out to handle most types of injuries calmly and confidently?
  • Do you follow basic safety rules when driving, walking at night, visiting an unfamiliar area, boating, etc.?

Reflect on your own childhood and the things that you were afraid of back then. Were any of those fears things that you know your parents were also afraid of? Were any of your fears based on a negative experience YOU had or were they based on the fact that you learned to be afraid because your parent or someone else was afraid?

Think about how you respond when something bad happens and make sure that the behavior your child sees from you is the way you’d want them to behave in a crisis. You’ll see why your own response to crisis is so crucial to explaining eveything to kids in the next section.

Be a Good Role Model for Preparedness Behavior

If you’ve ever experienced your toddler using your favorite cuss word in the correct context, you’ve seen behavior role modeling at its finest. Children mimic what they see and hear, especially when they are very young. Your child learned to eat, walk, and talk and yes even cuss by watching you and others they spend time with often.

My three-year-old grandson used the big MF word this summer and his mother was mortified but then she said “oh, that’s me all day long!” She took steps to correct her use of foul language and it hasn’t been an issue with her son since. It’s quite the eye opener for parents to realize their child listens and copies everything they do, even when you think they aren’t paying attention to you.

When kids are very little, they are like knowledge sponges. They soak in everything they see, hear, touch, and feel. This is their main method of learning new skills. In fact, many experts believe that a child’s development from infancy to age five years old is the most crucial time of their life. Their brains are developing in such a way that they are able to soak up almost unlimited knowledge. This could be the reason for the popular saying “Everything I need to know about life, I learned in kindergarten”.

You can teach kids about emergencies and being prepared at a very young age simply by modeling the preparedness behavior you want them to have. The first step is to evaluate your own behavior. If your child sees you acting afraid of extreme weather events, they will likely mimic that fear. But if your child sees you acting calm as you prepare for expected bad weather, they will adopt your attitude about extreme weather.

When you’re getting ready to start the day, talk to your young child about how you make decisions. Talk about what the weather is like and how that helps to determine what kind of clothing you will wear for the day.

For example, saying something simple to your young child like:

“It’s hot out today, we’re going to wear shorts so we can stay cool but we’ll need to remember our sunscreen so we don’t get burned.”

Or

“The sky is getting dark and the weather man says there is a storm coming. Let’s bring all your toys and bike into the garage now just in case it gets windy.”

There are a thousand of these types of examples. If you consciously talk to your kids on a daily basis in this way, they will learn to pay attention to weather, to dress appropriately and prepare for what is likely to happen.

Having a routine at home and a designated place for things also makes it easier for kids to be prepared. If you have kids who are elementary age or older, have them lay out their clothes and everything they will need for school the night before.

In our house, the rule is you have to take a jacket even if you don’t want to wear it because it’s better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it. When you notice changes in the weather, point them out to your child so they can get in the habit of noticing these things too.

If kids ask questions about your EDC items, tell them honestly what you carry and how it can help in everyday emergencies or bigger situations. Let them begin to “copy” your EDC items first with pretend tools when they are very young. Gradually transition them to actual functioning items but make sure they are age appropriate and you give your child proper instruction and practice.

A flashlight or headlamp is a good item as long as the batteries are secure and can’t be swallowed accidentally. An emergency whistle, bandana, a paracord bracelet, etc. are all great items to start out with for kids. As they get older, consider items such as the Dragonfly Wooden Knife by Spyderco or Kuhn Rikon Kinderkitchen Dog Knife with Teeth which comes with a great guide on how to handle and use the knife. Knives aren’t allowed in school of course but your kids can put together their own EDC for school which could be made up of items they will need throughout the day such as tissues, extra pencils, extra lunch money, etc.

Know Your Child

One of the most important factors in how to explain emergencies, disasters, and prepping to kids is to know your child. Every child is different. Some kids can handle hearing about a tornado in a nearby town whereas other kids will become anxious or overly worried or afraid that it will happen to them. Find out what your child already knows about a specific type of disaster, emergency, or prepping skill before you start giving them information.

Letting your child tell you what they already know about a topic gives you an idea of where to start with your explanation and if you need to correct any inaccurate information they may have heard from friends, school, or television, etc.

An understanding of the cognitive development of children can give you an idea of what they might be ready to handle at different ages. Generally, babies up to about two years of age are in the Sensorimotor stage and they learn best by using their senses and touching and playing with objects. Memory and imagination develop in the Preoperational stage from about age two through age seven years.

Children begin to realize past and future and understand things symbolically. Starting at about five years old kids should develop better attention, increased memory and problem-solving skills. They are able to work towards goals and make connections between one or more ideas.

Kids from seven to eleven years of age are in the Concrete Operational Stage. This is where they will begin to notice events outside of themselves and start to recognize and feel compassion for the feelings of people other than themselves. From age eleven on is the Formal Operational Stage. Children learn to use logic to accomplish things, solve problems, and plan for future events.

The above stages are guidelines and further research will give more insight into exactly which tasks fall under each category. But keep in mind that you know your child best. Try to stick to one or two new topics at a time until your child has mastered those. Make the topics something your child is interested in and something that is directly relevant for your area.

Provide Reassurance for Your Child

If you live in an area that frequently experiences disasters such as tornadoes, flooding, or hurricanes, etc. talk to your kids about how these things happen and what the family plan is for safety. When explaining things to your child, emphasize ways to protect themselves. If you pay attention to your child, you’ll see clues that will indicate whether they are ready for more responsibility or if the information you’re providing is beginning to overwhelm them.

If you get a sense that your child is overly worried about their safety or the safety of others, reassure them that being prepared is a good way to help them stay safe. Point out things that have been done to your home for example that make it stronger and able to better withstand a storm or other disaster or remind your child of the food, water, and other supplies you’ve stockpiled which will help you to hunker down and stay safe through a disaster, etc.

Explain Emergencies, Disasters, and Prepping to Kids by Emphasizing Safety

Another way to explain prepping to kids is to simply emphasize safety. Prepping is really all about safety in the end. Most parents already teach safety on a regular basis without even realizing it.

Think about some of the safety actions you already teach your kids such as:

  • Look both ways before crossing the street to avoid getting hit by a car
  • Don’t talk to strangers without mom or dad present to avoid getting kidnapped
  • Obey the traffic laws while driving, no texting or drinking while driving to avoid accidents
  • Buckle their seat belt in order to be safer in the car
  • Wear tennis shoes and a helmet when riding a bike
  • To run away if a stranger approaches them on their way to or from school
  • Wear a lifejacket during boating activities.

Here are some of the safety things I emphasize with my own kids and grandkids:

From the time they were little, I’ve pointed out different houses on our street that my kids can go to if they ever need any help from an adult when I’m not with them. These are the families I’ve known myself for many years and I would point out the houses every time we drove by them on our way to or from somewhere else even before my kids were old enough to leave the yard alone. If my kids are in trouble in our neighborhood when I’m not with them, I know they will react by running to the “safe” house that is nearest rather than to a stranger’s house.

When we go on an outing together as a family, whether it’s to a fair, festival, school football game, the zoo, or an amusement park, I remind my kids and grandkids before we go in that if they get separated from me they should go to the nearest person working there. I point out what the staff people are wearing (see those people with the bright orange shirts, logo, behind the counter, etc.).

If you are lost, go to the closest staff person, tell them your name and my name and that you are lost. As kids get old enough you can simply choose a meeting place you know they can find on their own such as the tallest ride or the information booth at the fair, etc. If the worst happens and they are separated they make a beeline for that spot and wait because they know you will come there to get them. Even with the prevalence of cell phones, a meeting spot is a good idea in case your child’s cell phone dies or is broken and they can’t call you.

So emphasize the safety measures and have a plan of action for events such as:

  • If they smell smoke in the house at night
  • If they are home alone and someone knocks on the door or tries to get inside
  • If the phone rings when they are home alone
  • If they are chased by a dog
  • If a car pulls up near the front yard and someone motions them to come closer

If you’ve taught your kids safety procedures for the above things, then it will seem perfectly logical to have safety plans for:

  • Power outages
  • Storms and other Natural Disasters
  • Flooding in the house
  • Downed power lines
  • SHTF

Let Them Help with Routine Preparations and Home Maintenance

Another way to explain emergencies, disasters, and prepping to kids is to let them help on a daily basis with routine preparations and home maintenance. If you’re baking bread or canning food, let your kids help with the tasks that are appropriate for their age.

As you work, explain what you are doing and why it’s important or how it helps keep things running smoothly or will protect you when bad things happen. Some of the preparations and home maintenance kids can help with include:

  • Feeding and caring for animals and livestock
  • Gathering eggs from the chickens or helping to dispatch them for the freezer
  • Cooking breakfast using different methods (campfire, propane stove, solar oven)
  • Restocking the first aid kit for the house and car
  • Inventory of food, water, and other supplies in your stockpile
  • Checking to make sure doors and windows are locked at night
  • Gathering firewood and building a fire when camping
  • Putting up a tent in the backyard or while camping
  • Topping off essential fluids in the car (gas, oil, power steering fluid, etc.)
  • Filling water bricks or other containers to stockpile water
  • Rotating food supplies in the pantry or other storage area
  • Testing smoke detectors to make sure they are working
  • Cleaning firearms
  • Packing for a trip whether camping, vacation, or bug out
  • Finding the way back from a hike or other “adventure” in the woods
  • Plan your vacation route or the next trip to Disney

Wrap-Up

The bottom line is the best way to explain emergencies, disasters, and prepping to kids is to let your kids share in the experience as you are making preparations and plans for different events. Give as much information as your child can handle for their age and maturity level, let them ask questions, and try not to overwhelm them with too much information at once.

If you emphasize safety, have patience, and make being prepared just another part of what they need to learn as they grow, your kids will learn the skills that are essential to keeping them safe. Kids are amazingly resourceful too, so you may just learn some new ways to do things too!

The post How to Explain Emergencies, Disasters, and Prepping to Kids appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

The Best Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) for Preppers

MREs are extremely nutritious and can be stored at extreme temperatures for long periods of time, making them highly sought after from preppers. In my time as an Infantryman, I’ve eaten my fair share of MREs. Some of them taste pretty good, and some are terrible. Personally, I like to spice mine up with “Tabasco” sauce to add some more flavor.

In this article, we’ll go over a few of the top-rated MRE brands and why they made our list. MREs are very useful for your BOB (because they’re light-weight), as well as your bug out location. This way, you’re not scrambling to find a source for nutritious food after SHTF. With their low cost, as well as the quality of flavor found in some MREs, they are very popular amongst avid preppers.

Brands That Made Our List

These are the 4 brands that I found to be cost-effective as well as nutritious (and full of flavor) for your MRE needs. There are some effects that MREs can have on your body if you eat them for a long period, so make sure you have a plan to gather food naturally as well. Everything in the prepping world has cons, so don’t let them steer you away from MREs. Instead, use them to plan accordingly, so you can limit the negative effects they have.

Pros

  • Easy, reliable food source.
  • Nutritious, and flavorful with minimal effort to prepare.
  • Most MREs are pre-rationed, to help control your calorie and nutrition intake daily.

Cons

  • Long-term consumption can cause constipation.
  • The high sodium content in rationed meals can require your water intake to increase.
  • After they expire, they can (in some cases) become inedible, causing you to waste money.

Department of Defense MREs

MREs are designed to sustain a warfighter in an extremely physically demanding environment, just off of one meal per day. Each MRE contains between 1,500-2,000 (depending on the meal) calories in its contents, but you must eat everything that comes with them. Military MREs are packed with added nutrition, and (most of the time) flavor. Military MREs have a shelf-life of 3-10 years (depending on the temperature conditions that we’ll go over), making them perfect for preppers who want an easy on-the-go meal when SHTF.

Every MRE comes with a condiments packet that includes tissue paper, moist towelettes, gum (us Infantrymen call it “5 second gum” because the flavor only lasts 5 seconds), and some sort of spice. Sometimes, you can get lucky and get some instant coffee powder with creamer and sugar, too. The added caffeine helps when you have a long night ahead of you.

Military MREs made in 2016 come in 24 different menus (meals), so there’s definitely a variety to choose from. Obviously, everyone’s taste buds are different, so what I like might be different from what you like. DoD MREs usually cost around $100 for a box of 12, so they’re a bit on the expensive side. Due to their long shelf life, and multiple items per menu, I’d say they’re worth it! For the sake of time, I’ll list the top 3 DoD MRE meals I enjoy (hopefully you will, too!).

Chili with Beans

Contents: Chili with beans main entrée, corn bread (trans fat free), cheddar cheese spread, crackers (trans fat free), cheese filled snack (like “Combos”), carbohydrate beverage powder.

The chili with beans MRE is packed with delicious flavor (if you like chili). Like all DoD MREs, this menu item is packed with nutrients essential for sustaining an active body. My favorite thing about the chili with beans MRE is that you can combine most of the contents into one big meal, saving you a lot of time if you’re in a hurry. Heat up the main entrée, and the cheese spread, using the MRE water-activated heater. Then, crush the crackers and cornbread while they’re still in their pouch. Finally, combine the cheese, chili, cornbread, and crackers inside the main entrée pouch and you have yourself a delicious meal!

The carbohydrate beverage powder is just a fancy name for “Gatorade”. Save these pouches for when you become dehydrated, as these will help hydrate you and keep you going. The flavor is decent, as long as you don’t dilute them too much with water. If you’re low on water, you can put some powder in your mouth, then swallow it down with a little water.

Chili and Macaroni (AKA Chili-Mac)

Contents: Chili-mac main entrée, pound cake (trans fat free), jalapeno cheddar cheese spread, crackers (trans fat free), beef snacks (like juicy jerky), candy (usually “Skittles”), carbohydrate beverage powder, crushed red pepper spice.

Chili-mac is one of my favorite DoD MREs because it tastes so dang good. When you’re miserable and hungry, and you eat some chili-mac, it makes your situation suck less for some reason. Most of the time you’ll get a lemon poppy seed pound cake (like a compressed lemon poppy seed muffin), which taste amazing. I suggest heating up the chili-mac and the cheese spread together, because this makes the cheese melt into the entrée easier. If you’re really wanting to spice things up, add in the crushed red pepper spice.

The beef snacks are a little bland in flavor, but they’re packed with protein. These are a good snack to save for late at night, to help you have energy in the morning. Do your best to save the candy that you get from MREs, because you can use them for short-term energy for late nights. Altogether, the chili-mac MRE is an outstanding meal that’s packed with flavor and nutrients.

Rib Shaped BBQ Pork Patty

Contents: Pork patty entrée, Santa Fe style rice and beans, ranger bar (trans fat free), peanut butter, wheat snack bread twin pack (trans fat free), jelly/jam, carbohydrate beverage powder, BBQ sauce.

If you like the “McRib” from McDonald’s, you’ll love the BBQ pork patty MRE. It tastes identical (although it’s best when you heat it up), and has enough protein and carbs to sustain you for quite a while. My advice is that you save the wheat snack bread to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with them, and pour the BBQ sauce into the entrée once it’s heated up. Eating just these two things can fill up a small stomach, so you can save your ranger bar for later.

Ranger bars are delicious, and incredibly full of nutrients. They come in two flavors (that I’ve tasted), apple cinnamon and chocolate. Both flavors are great tasting, however their consistency can be a bit awkward. In higher temperatures, they can be sticky and don’t retain shape very well. If this happens, just eat it out of the wrapper, they still hold their nutritional value.

Another perk of DoD MREs, is the uses for the heaters that come in most of them (excluding tuna). They burn very hot, and can stay warm for hours. If you use them, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, the chemicals that are released can be toxic. After you’re done using your heater, you can use the water left over as an impromptu bug repellant. Don’t put the water on your skin, ever! Use it on the dirt surrounding your foxhole, or in the doorways around your bugout location. It lasts a few hours, and can be a big help when you have an ant problem.

DoD MREs can weigh you down quite a bit if you put them in your BOB, though. Weighing in at 18oz-22oz per MRE, you can see how having multiple can become a weight problem. Therefore, us Infantrymen do what’s called “field stripping” our MREs when we put them in our rucks.

Field stripping an MRE is the process of pulling out the contents from its original packaging, and choosing what individual contents we want to take with us, and what to discard. Once you’ve chosen what you want to take, put them back in the original packaging, fold the top over the packaging, and tape it shut. This also saves room in your BOB.

Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations

Being an Infantryman, I’ve gotten sick of eating DoD MREs, so, for my BOB I use Grizzly Gear Emergency Food Rations. They come in a vacuum sealed package containing one 3,600 calorie bar broken up into 9 cubes. One thing I’ll say about these bars, is they taste amazing! They have a vanilla wafer taste (with a hint of lemon), and have a cornbread-like consistency.

They’re incredibly affordable as well, costing $12.95 plus shipping on Amazon per bar. Weighing in at 24oz per bar (about 1.5lbs), they can add noticeably extra weight to your BOB if you bring multiple. However, one 9-cube bar can sustain the average man 3 days! I highly recommend these rations for your BOB, and maybe even to stockpile in your bug out location, due to their shelf life.

Each ration has a shelf life of 5 years, making them an incredible value for preppers. I’m not a salesman, but if you’ve been looking for a simple ration that can sustain you (and tastes great) then you’ve read the right article. The only problem I’ve had with these bars, is when they arrive at my door, sometimes the cubes can get a bit crumbled in their packaging. This doesn’t really matter though, because they still retain nutritional value even if their consistency isn’t the same.

Tac-Bar Food Rations by Expedition Research LLC

When it comes to pre-packaged rations, Expedition Research LLC goes above and beyond. At the cost of only $70, they offer an outstanding assortment of tools (which we’ll go over), 5 one day ration bars (2,500 calories each), 10 “Aquatab” 17mg water purification tablets, and a reusable rugged ammo can.

Each ration bar contains honey, whey protein, oats, and coconut. Because of this assortment, each bar contains an incredible number of vitamins and minerals, as well as carbs and fats. According to reviews, the bars taste amazing. Most users compare the taste to granola bars, but with a chewy consistency. You might be thinking “$70 for just 5 days is a bit expensive”, and understandably so. However, the list of tools that also comes with it make it well worth the price along with the food, can, and water purification tablets.

Each ammo can contains a metal tin sealed with tape, that has all the tools you would need for gathering more food (given there’s a body of water with fish nearby), as well as starting a fire. Each tool tin contains: stainless steel multitool with case and instructions, magnetic compass, gold emergency blanket, monofilament line, fishing line spool, 2 fishing hooks, 2 lead fishing sinkers, plastic fishing worm, 2 double sided razor blades, steel fire starter and striker, survival whistle, and a candle.

You can see why the $70 is worth it now, right? I would highly recommend storing one of these in your vehicle, in case you need to bug out fast and you don’t have your BOB on you. This way, you’ll have the essentials to survive while you head to your bug out location to resupply. For everything that comes in one ammo can, I’d say the $70 value is well worth it.

Augason Farms 30-Day Emergency Food Storage Supply Pail

For long-term sustenance needs, Augason Farms is a great solution. They offer 307 servings of food, 40 servings of preserved milk, and a “FireOn” fuel disk (to assist you with fire starting) all for a small price of $90. If unopened, the contents inside of the supply pail have a shelf life of up to 20 years (1 year if opened). This makes the supply pail a great option for long-term preppers, just buy it and store it in your bug out location, and you don’t have to worry about replacing it for 20 years.

According to the reviews, the food has excellent flavor. The milk has mixed reviews, but some people aren’t used to preserved milk (they expect it to taste the exact same as milk from the store). Each pail comes with a meal-prep chart to help you conserve your food into portioned meals. If you follow the chart, you can sustain yourself with 1,822 calories per day. Remember, the 30-day meal plan is only for one person. One pail can feed a family of 4 for only a week.

Each pail contains: Cheesy broccoli rice (40 servings), creamy chicken rice (48 servings), creamy potato soup (48 servings), elbow macaroni (15 servings), cheese powder (15 servings), hearty vegetable chicken soup (32 servings), maple brown sugar oatmeal (60 servings), “Morning Moo’s” low fat milk alternative (40 servings), instant potatoes (8 servings), and banana chips (16 servings). As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from for meals. This gives you the opportunity to mix up your meals every day, so you don’t get bored of your food when you’re in a miserable environment.

Special Items

MREs are a great way to ensure you’ll sustain your body with food for long periods of time, however there are other essential items you’ll need if you wish to survive after they’re gone. Fishing line and hooks (included in the Tac-Bar box) are a great, lightweight solution for finding food post-collapse. Fish are easy to clean, and full of protein.

For an easy solution for clean water, you can use water purification tabs (included in the Tac-Bar box), boil water, or use a “LifeStraw”. Whatever solution you decide to use, make sure you make the right decision. Drinking unsanitary water can be lethal, or at the bare minimum give you an extreme case of diarrhea. Neither of which you want when SHTF, my highest recommendation is a LifeStraw. For extremely contaminated water, boil it first, then use the LifeStraw.

Wrap-Up

For the MREs that I included in this article, I included them because I have either tried them and loved them, or they have the best reviews from preppers like you. If you consider yourself an extreme prepper, I suggest having at least 2 boxes of DoD MREs, and an Augason Farms Supply Pail in your long-term bug out location. This ensures that you’ll have enough food and variety to feed yourself and others for a decent amount of time.

I highly recommend having the Tac-Bar box in your BOV, because it has tools for everyday survival and enough food to feed one person for 5 days (split that up for however many people you have with you). Since it weighs 7lbs, I wouldn’t count on carrying it to your bug out location. If you’re not comfortable with putting it in your BOV, you can always store it in your pre-dug defensive foxhole position (see my article on foxholes), because these cans are weather-resistant.

For your BOB and other portable survival kits, I recommend bringing 1-2 Grizzly Gear ration bars. The total weight for 2 bars will be a little over 3.5lbs, but you’ll have enough food to sustain yourself for a week in case you get sidetracked on your way to your bug out location. For those of you with families, this can be a life saver compared to packing enough MREs to sustain them in your BOB. With the great flavor that the ration bars offer, your family will have one less thing to complain about when SHTF.

MREs definitely get my stamp of approval for preppers, for many reasons. The biggest reason of them all, is dependability. With most MREs having shelf lives of over 5 years, they’re an extremely useful source of food for long-term prepping. Think about it, if a catastrophic event happens, do you want to explain to your family that you need to find food because you didn’t want to spend less than $100 for food? I wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t either.

The post The Best Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) for Preppers appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

Homeschooling 101 for Preppers

There’s no denying that public schools in the United States and other places are in a decline. More parents than ever are considering alternatives to public education including online schooling, private or charter schools, homeschooling, and even unschooling.

We’ve all dealt with young cashiers unable to calculate your change unless the cash register tells them how much to give back and we’ve seen confusion erupt if we give them a ten-dollar bill and a quarter to pay for something that totaled $10.15.

My own thirteen-year-old (middle school) has questioned me about why public school doesn’t teach her any “real” skills she needs to live on her own such as how to write out a check, balance a checkbook, create a budget, or open a savings account. These are skills I’ve started teaching her myself of course, but it’s just one of the many reasons to consider homeschool. As the government entities issue more and more regulations on curriculum, our kids in public schools are falling through the cracks in a number of ways.

As parents, we want our kids to learn everything they need to know to be a well-functioning member of society without putting their personal health and even their lives at risk. When our children are forced to spend six hours or more a day in schools, it limits the number of things we can teach them as parents.

In addition, today’s public schools are increasingly focused on test scores rather than critical thinking skills and practical knowledge. Controlling the mind as you know is one way of controlling the people. If you’re a prepper, it’s easy to surmise that the ultimate hidden agenda of the education system today is to produce generations of adults that are conditioned to conform and follow orders rather than think for themselves.

With the increase in violent attacks in schools and other public places, it’s also getting tougher to send our little ones off to school, with a teacher we don’t know, in a building full of people we don’t know, and in a location, that is away from our watchful eyes.  As preppers we know that one of the most dangerous threats during a catastrophe will almost always be other people. How can we possibly protect our children when SHTF when they are surrounded by strangers and aren’t even within our reach?

Public schools and even many private and charter schools are fraught with dangers, including the potential for school shootings or terrorism as well as more common threats like bullying, eating disorders, depression, racial tension, sex offenders, exposure to drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, anxiety, unexpected exposure to allergens, etc. These issues seem to be virtually unavoidable in public schools.

Many parents are turning to private and charter schools and find those lacking as well. In fact, the homeschool movement when it began and through the early 1980’s was primarily Christian families looking to shield their children from the negative secular influence. Now, more families are turning to homeschool as a way of reducing the negative influences and peer pressures that kids are inundated with in the school systems.

Homeschooling is growing in popularity for many parents seeking an alternative to traditional education for their children. According to recent reports by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), there were just over 2 million homeschooled students in 2010, an increase of more than half a million from 2007. In fall of 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) predicted just over 50 million students would attend elementary and secondary public schools. The reasons for this growth are not just religious based as you will see in a future section.

What is Homeschooling?

The first thing to understand about homeschool is that not all homeschool programs are the same. Some programs are very structured with step by step lesson plans down to the day and even the hour. Other homeschool programs are extremely flexible and basically require you as the parent to design your program and lesson plans based on what works for your child and your family.

Some homeschool programs are entirely structured around the computer and include a curriculum of multimedia lessons and tests that your child participates in online. These are called e-learning homeschool programs and are generally more structured. On the opposite end of the homeschool spectrum is “unschooling”.

What is Unschooling?

This is a type of learning that is completely flexible and in most cases 100% child-led. Parents who “unschool” believe wholeheartedly that children will learn what they need to know when they are interested and ready to learn it. There is no “curriculum” to follow.

If a 3-year-old is interested in reading, they will learn to read but if that interest doesn’t come until age eight that’s okay too. The engaged unschooling parent provides opportunities for learning but doesn’t force learning on their child if they aren’t yet ready.

More Reasons for Preppers to Homeschool

Flexibility

There’s no denying that one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility of the schedule. Homeschool families are free to travel at any time of the year without worrying about missing school. School work can be completed at any time of the day or night which leaves children free to get involved with chores around the homestead or compound.

Homeschooling can happen in just about any location which means strategic relocation, work transfers, and other reasons that require a “move” won’t interfere with school progress.

Benefits for Child (Reduced Pressure and Anxiety)

  • No more anxiety and trauma over changing schools
  • Homeschooled kids aren’t impacted by snow days or quarantines, teacher strikes, etc.
  • Homeschool students consistently rank higher on ACT and SAT tests
  • Limited exposure to drugs and alcohol.
  • Reduced exposure to bullying and peer pressure that can impact learning
  • Better prepared for real world with more time for learning and practicing practical skills.

More Quality Time with Family

  • Opportunity to strengthen family bonds
  • Increased opportunity/time for spiritual development
  • Provides time for parents to teach practical skills and prepping skills

Homeschooling is possible anywhere in the United States and in many different countries all over the world. In the United States, there are several homeschool law categories you need to know about. Laws for different states can be very different.

  • Home Education Laws
  • Private School Laws
  • Equivalency Laws

Before you make the decision to homeschool, make sure that you thoroughly understand and are ready to comply with any state and local reporting and testing requirements for homeschooling in your area. Some states require homeschoolers to not only register their intent but to also submit attendance and a detailed work portfolio or other reports that document learning. Failure to comply with laws regarding education can land you in serious hot water with the juvenile court system.

Know Your State Education Requirements for Record Keeping

Some states will require portfolios that include sample work. Above all, make sure you know what records will and will not be required in your state.

Recordkeeping Resources for Homeschoolers:

So, You Wanna Homeschool, Where to Start:

If you are interested in homeschooling, before you begin it’s important to connect with the resources that are available for homeschoolers. These resources can help you to further determine whether non-traditional schooling is an option for you and which approach will best suit your family’s needs.

State and local homeschool groups

Online Homeschool groups

 Homeschool Magazines

Read Up on Homeschooling

I combed through more than ninety pages of Homeschool Books and Resources on Amazon to put together this short list of most popular books:

Research Curriculum Choices

As you begin to interact with local and state homeschool groups you will learn the laws and homeschool reporting requirements for your area. You will also begin to learn a lot about the different foundations and approaches to homeschooling. Some homeschool curriculum programs are faith based, some nearly mimic the traditional school curriculum while still others are completely designed by the parents and students.

Here are just a few of the examples of homeschool choices:

  • Ambleside Online (36 weeks, completely free but must pay for books or get them free online or in used bookstores, based on whole child education–not just the mind.)
  • KONOS written in 1984 by 2 homeschool moms. Each volume $110 or more. Can buy entire 8 years for around $500.00 if bought all at once.
  • Calvert Education a fully accredited complete homeschool curriculum that serves as the foundation for learning for kids from Pre-K through grade 12 all over the world.

Virtual or Online Schools

These are non-traditional learning programs, sometimes referred to as “homeschool” which are largely online based programs that use testing for evaluation and documentation of grade level progress.

Homeschool Success Stories:

Although homeschool can be a very non-traditional approach to education, there are hundreds of successful people who have been homeschooled during all or part of their educational career.

Some of these successful and determined homeschool students include:

Christopher Paolini from Los Angeles California. He’s the author of the Inheritance Cycle and the Eragon series. He and his sister were home schooled and he graduated high school at the age of 15 years old.

Bethany Hamilton, is also known as the “Soul Surfer”. A documentary movie was made about her story. She was attacked by a shark and lost her arm and was able to return to surfing. Bethany was home schooled for middle school and then chose to return to public high school.

Corey Cogdell from Alaska is a trap shooter who was homeschooled. In fact, many Olympic athletes are home schooled to allow for their rigorous training schedule. Corey won the Olympic bronze medal for the Women’s Trap event in 2008 and 2016. In the 2007 Pan American Games, Corey also brought home a bronze medal for the Women’s Trap event.

Dakota Root, the Fencing Champion from Las Vegas was homeschooled, earned perfect scores in reading and writing on the SAT test, and was then accepted to top schools including Stanford, Columbia, Cal-Berkeley, Brown, Penn, Duke, and Harvard. She chose Harvard and was a top student and on the elite fencing team.

What Extracurricular Activities Can Homeschoolers Do?

One of the popular arguments against homeschooling when it first began back in the 1980’s was that homeschooled children missed out on participating in extracurricular activities, special events, and team sports or clubs available through the public school system.

Thanks in part to many parents who have advocated for homeschoolers to be included in public school activities, laws in many states have changed so that homeschooled children can participate along with their peers. Even in states where public schools don’t include homeschoolers for extracurricular activities, they can participate in a number of community activities including:

  • Rowing teams
  • Swim Teams
  • Ballet Classes
  • Homeschool baseball
  • Horseback riding lessons
  • Archery teams
  • Book clubs
  • Sewing classes
  • Homeschool drama clubs or community theater
  • Cheerleading
  • Piano lessons
  • 4-H Club
  • Boy or Girls Clubs
  • Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts
  • Music lessons

What Prepping Skills Can Be Learned?

Since the homeschool schedule is flexible as to what texts and other activities are used to teach concepts such as math, science, language, etc., homesteading and prepping skills can be used as fodder for learning. This makes homeschooling an excellent option for homesteading or prepper families.

For example, a child being taught to bake and cook from scratch will learn fractions as well as how different ingredients interact to create the final product. A child learning foraging and gardening learns how to find or grow their own food, they learn how to identify plants, and other things covered in the standard science curriculum. Learning becomes a bonding experience for parent and child. With the proper adult guidance, all of these types of homesteading chores and preparedness lessons can be turned into “school” lessons.

  • Canning and other Food Preservation Methods
  • Fishing and Hunting
  • Laundry
  • Animal husbandry
  • Livestock Care and Maintenance
  • Building projects
  • Security techniques
  • Endurance activities
  • And many more!

The Homeschool Budget

For those who aren’t careful, homeschooling can cost a fortune. There are many companies in the homeschool market that prey on inexperienced homeschool parents. Compared to the costs of public and private school, homeschooling is a much less expensive alternative.

Before you buy anything, whether it be curriculum or materials, make sure you’ve thoroughly done your research. Many of the resources you need for a good quality homeschool program can be found for free or for very little cost. As a parent, you must make use of the free resources available whenever possible. Utilize online resources, public library resources, virtual libraries, etc. to locate the materials you need to support the homeschool curriculum you choose for your family.

How to Choose the Best Homeschooling Program

  • Review and understand the homeschool program goals to ensure they fit with your own needs and goals.
  • Do you agree with the principles the program is based upon?
  • Who wrote the curriculum and has it been updated recently?
  • Does it include hands-on learning activities?
  • What portion of the time will be spent on the computer?
  • Are children at different grade levels taught together or is every grade separate?
  • What kind of support or network is available to parents using your curriculum?

Sometimes the Best Homeschool Program is a blended approach that meets state requirements but suits your child’s learning style best. Lessons can be in various formats including worksheets, craft or art projects, field trips, discussion questions, computer based activities, and hands on discovery activities. Look for short lessons with interactive software or multimedia . Look for a program that provides you with the flexibility to incorporate practical prepping skills and homesteading lessons into the curriculum.

When Homeschooling Goes Awry

  • Your kids may experience situations where they are outsiders.
  • Other people may judge your decision to homeschool and think you are crazy
  • Your child may miss out on some “traditional” field trips and dances
  • School is not always fun
  • You don’t have free time while your kids are “at school” like other moms.
  • Your privacy is very limited since kids are home all day and night.
  • Friends and relatives may be quick to blame homeschooling for any of your child’s shortcomings.
  • Homeschooling still takes time!
  • You will have to seek out social opportunities for your kids and use them as teachable moments
  • The responsibility for your child’s education is all on you!

All of these downsides to homeschooling can be alleviated with preparation and advanced planning. The only reason not to do it, is if it doesn’t suit the needs of your child. If you do your research prior to making a commitment to homeschool, you’ll find it a very rewarding experience not only for your child but for the whole family.

The post Homeschooling 101 for Preppers appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

Lessons from an Infantryman That Will Make You a Better Prepper

Being an Infantryman has taught me a lot about prepping, as well as life in general. There are moral lessons, as well as physical ones that are engrained into our heads. Basic Combat Training teaches only the basics that are required to being an Infantryman. The real test, however, is when you get to your actual unit.

Infantrymen aren’t “bullet sponges”, or “meat heads” like people like to refer us as (though sometimes both are true). A real Infantryman is someone who leads from the front, takes charge, and sets the example to those who need it the most. There’s a phrase coined by the Infantry, and it’s been around for over 100 years in our line of work, “Follow Me”.

This phrase is the cornerstone of our line of work, because we lead from the front. Whenever you need help, if there’s an Infantryman nearby, you can count on hearing those words. An example of this, is the thwarted terror attack in Paris, France in 2015. One of the men who led the counter-attack was a U.S. Army Infantryman. Whether you want to take these lessons to heart is your choice, but doing so may help lead you to better decision-making.

Before we’re Infantrymen, we’re soldiers. In the U.S. Army, there are 7 values that we try to incorporate into our everyday lives. Nobody’s perfect, but if you follow these 7 values, you’ll find that your decision-making is more simplified. When placed in a column, the first letter of each of these values spells out “LDRSHIP”. Leadership is an important quality that we’ll go over as well.

Loyalty

Loyalty is an excellent trait to have as a prepper, because if you stay true to your friends, they will stay true to you (most of the time). Never betray anyone, as this will cause you to have unnecessary enemies. When someone needs you, help them, for you might need their help one day as well.

Duty

You have a duty to your country, your family, and your friends. Having duty to your country doesn’t mean you have a duty to somebody, but as a nation. Never act selfish, help others before you help yourself. If there’s only enough food to fill your friend’s mouth, feed him before yourself. These acts of kindness will reflect on your character, and in turn will influence how others treat you.

Respect

This value goes down to the core of the “golden rule”, treat others how you wish to be treated. If you meet someone for the first time, shake their hand and treat them with respect, as well as dignity. Just because you hear rumors about someone, doesn’t mean they’re true. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and respect everyone as human beings. These people may save your life one day.

Selfless-Service

Like I said in “duty”, never act upon selfish temptations. If the opportunity presents itself to give your life for another human being, do it. Not to get too philosophical, but to give up your life for your fellow man is an extraordinary thing to do to show your humanity. I’m not saying if someone’s shooting at you, to just simply die because they want you to. What I’m saying is, if you see an innocent person bleeding-out in the middle of a firefight, help them. How can you expect people to act humanely, if you don’t do so in return?

Honor

This value may in fact be the most important one of them all. Honor is doing things for the right reasons, at the right times. Never do something for someone, and hold your good deed over their heads to receive something in return. If you help someone, do it out of your honor, and because you wish to show empathy to your fellow man (or woman).

Integrity

Always do the right thing, even when no one is looking. If you must ask yourself “is this the right thing to do?”, odds are it’s probably not. If someone leaves money or valuables behind accidentally, always return it to them. How can you expect someone to return your lost item, if you steal theirs? Never steal from anyone, and more importantly, never steal a dead man’s boots. That is some bad luck I wouldn’t mess with, this lesson dates to the U.S. Revolutionary war. If you steal a dead man’s boots, you more than likely will end up in his “shoes”, get it?

Personal Courage

Courage isn’t being fearless in the face of danger. It’s being terrified to move forward, but doing it anyway. As Infantrymen, when we get scared, most of us just think “Screw it. If I die, it’ll be a hell of a story.”. If ever in your life fear stands between you and success, you need to face that fear head-on. If you don’t, you’ll never be successful in life, and in a post-collapse environment you’ll probably die.

Leadership

Having leadership qualities as a prepper can greatly help you pre-collapse, as well as post-collapse. The more people that look up to you, the more help you’re likely to get. You should never be too proud to ask for help, it might save your life. Being a leader isn’t just issuing out orders to your subordinates, it’s more about mutual respect and guidance. Think about it, who did you look up to as a kid? Whoever they are, it’s probably not because they barked orders at you, they were your mentor. They guided you to become the person you are today, and that’s exactly what type of leader you should be.

Never be afraid to apologize for your mistakes, be humble in everything you do. If you’re wrong, admit to it. You would expect these things from people, so you should do the same to them (referring to respect). If you wrong somebody in any way, make it right. A leader never betrays his subordinates, and they always lead by example. If you want something done, give clear and concise guidance as to how you want it done, show them how to do it if they don’t know how.

When in a firefight, always lead from the front. Your subordinates are less-likely to die for you if you cower behind everyone barking orders. If you want your followers to be brave in difficult situations, you must also be brave. Never make anyone do anything that you wouldn’t do, this will make them lose faith in you. The most important aspect of leadership is respecting your subordinates, if you respect them, they’ll respect you.

Structure

Having a structured, organized life is very important (especially for a prepper). Organization is key, it helps keep you from losing essential items that you might need when SHTF. It also helps you stay on track when preparing for the worst-case scenario, getting sidetracked is very counter-productive. Buy a planner, or simply use a notebook to help keep important information stored.

Use caution, however, when putting sensitive information on paper. If it falls into the wrong hands, it could severely damage all the hard work you’ve put in. There’s a big grey-area when it comes to storing sensitive information. If you don’t write it down and try to remember it, you might forget. If you do write it down, it could fall into the wrong hands. That decision is yours, but my recommendation is to remember words, not numbers. It’s easier for our minds to remember a sentence than it is to remember a sequence of numbers.

Goals

When an Infantryman gets ready to be promoted to the rank of “sergeant”, they more than likely will go to an oral board. This is where he will go in front of a panel of higher-ranking Infantrymen and answer questions that relate to his job. One of the things he must prepare before he goes to the board, is his 3 short-term goals and 3 long-term goals. This is so the panel can see that the Infantryman has a plan for his future, which is very important for preppers too. Without a solid plan, you’re not a prepper.

Set 3 short-term goals for yourself and your family, this can be pre-collapse or post-collapse. An example of 3 short term goals are:

  • Dig fortified foxholes around my property, and set traps strategically.
  • Set up my BOB.
  • Find other friendly preppers and agree to team up in case SHTF.

After you’ve set your short-term goals, you should concentrate on your long-term ones. These goals need to be post-collapse, as long term goals usually are months or years ahead of time. An example of 3 long-term goals are:

  • Survive the first 3 months post-collapse.
  • Have a secondary food and water source in place after we run out of the first ones.
  • Pre-plan trips to densely-populated areas to resupply.

Goals need to be achievable, yet semi-difficult to accomplish. Making a long-term goal such as drinking water daily isn’t exactly a goal, it’s a necessity. Another purpose for goals, is to give you something to look forward to when life is difficult. Life after a catastrophic event can be very difficult, so it’s important to find a purpose to keep pushing forward.

Embracing the “Suck”

This term is used by Infantrymen to describe finding joy in even the smallest things. Life as an Infantryman is not easy, and neither will life post-collapse. When you’re in the woods in your foxhole when it’s raining, and water starts to pour into your foxhole, that can be frustrating. It’s during times like these that embracing the suck is most important. You can either be soaking-wet and angry, or soaking-wet and happy. Either way, you’ll still be soaking-wet.

When I’m on mile 10 of a 12-mile ruck march (ruck marching is when we carry large backpacks filled with gear on our backs, and full body armor with our weapons long distances), I like to pop a “Jolly Rancher” candy in my mouth. This helps me take my mind off the fact that I’m tired and miserable. Find something small that takes your mind off bad situations, and put it in your BOB. Make sure it’s lightweight however, because added weight can be a big nuisance.

Never put other people down, just because you’re sucking. Remember, if you’re sucking, so are they. Instead, be the person that brings their spirits up. Everyone likes a motivator in their group. If you’re that motivator, people will trust you more, and be more likely to help you when you need it most. If you have a short-temper, it’s imperative that you fix it before SHTF, otherwise life will be much worse than it needs to be.

Know Your Surroundings

Infantrymen are taught to always be aware of our surroundings, and to have attention to detail. This directly relates to preppers, regardless if it’s pre-collapse or post-collapse. Having a keen-eye for detail helps you remember important details that could potentially save your life. Never be complacent (too comfortable) wherever you are. If you pay attention to detail, you’ll notice that your surroundings are ever-changing, so you need to change your perspective on them.

Whenever you walk into a room, you should always look for two exit points in case SHTF. This way, if one exit point is blocked, you have a backup. If you’re going to sit down, never sit with your back to an entry point. You should be able to see whoever walks in, so if that person presents themselves as a threat, you can act accordingly. Tip – if you have the option to choose between a booth or a table in a restaurant, choose a table. You can push a chair back and remove yourself from the table faster than dealing with sliding out of a booth (you can also use a chair as a weapon).

Think of everyone as a threat, regardless of what they look like. In my article “How to Survive a Street Fight”, I reference Maj. Gen. James “Mad-Dog” Mattis when he said “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”. If you look at photographs of prior domestic terrorists, not all of them are of Arab descent. You never know what someone’s intentions are at any given moment, so act as if everyone you see could potentially be a threat. This doesn’t mean be anti-social and judge everyone, it simply means make a mental note of everyone you see.

Know that there are weapons everywhere. A weapon isn’t just a blade or a gun, weapons can be found anywhere. For example, you could use the plate that you’re eating off of to kill somebody (with the right amount of force, in the right spot). Wherever you are, make a mental note of at least two (one main, and one backup) weapons that you could reach for at any given time.

Priorities

In the Infantry, we have priorities of work when we’re in a defensive position, and you should too. This keeps your defense organized, and gives it a concrete foundation for security. To have a successful defensive position, you must have priorities. The following list includes the priorities (in order) that you should follow for your defense.

  • Security / sectors of fire
  • Weapon maintenance
  • Sanitation
  • Sustainment (eating food, and drinking water)
  • Sleep

Security / Sectors of Fire

This should be your upmost priority, because without a secure defense, you will more than likely die. A sector of fire is the area in which you are responsible to look for threats, and engage them if necessary. Never skip security, even if it means missing a meal, or a few hours of sleep. You’ll sleep more soundly knowing that your area is safe.

Weapon Maintenance

Your weapon is no good if it constantly malfunctions, so make sure you clean it (and check for defects) whenever an opportunity presents itself. This is why working in a team post-collapse is very beneficial, you can perform other duties while your partner(s) pull security, and vice-versa. Make sure you pack at least some weapon lube, and a rag in your BOB. With these two items, you can keep most weapons in working condition until you can find other materials.

Sanitation

If you’re not healthy, you can’t fight. Sanitation is very important for staying healthy, especially in a post-collapse environment. Packing hand sanitizer in your BOB has many uses, one of them being sanitation without utilizing a lot of water. Baby wipes are a great way to clean your body when there is no shower available, and they’re lightweight. Make sure if you pack baby wipes, you get the non-scented ones, added scents can attract bugs (or enemies).

You don’t need to clean your entire body, either. If you’re conserving baby wipes, clean the main areas: pits, chest, toes, and groin area. If you keep these areas clean, you’re less likely to run into rash issues, as well as infections. Also, make sure you’ve packed enough pairs of socks so that you can change them out if they get wet. Wet feet are a recipe for many issues such as athlete’s foot. If you remember anything about sanitation, remember to regularly change your socks (at least once every 48 hours, less than that if they get wet).

Sustainment

You can go 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. These numbers aren’t the rule though, they’re merely the exception. Imagine how weak you would be if you went 3 weeks without food, especially in a post-collapse environment. Try to keep these numbers down to 1 day without water, and 1 week without food (if absolutely necessary).

If you have the means to do so, make sure you drink at the very least 8oz of water daily (more if you’re very active), and eat 1,500 calories daily. Doing this will provide your body with enough sustenance to keep you energized and moving forward.

Disclaimer: check with your doctor before doing this!

Sleep

Your body needs sleep, especially after your adrenaline has been working overtime. If you go without sleep long enough, your body will literally induce itself into a coma. In an “on the move” environment, allow yourself at least 3 hours of sleep every 24 hours. This will give your body enough rest to keep it running. For best results, give your body at least 6 hours. If you need to rotate shifts to keep security in your defensive position, one-hour shifts are recommended. This gives the person resting enough time to sleep, and at the same time isn’t too long of a shift for the person who’s awake.

Following these priorities of work in order, can help keep your experience in your defensive position more safe. If times get hard, remember to embrace the suck. Nobody is happy that they had to bug out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find happiness in the smaller things. If you keep these priorities as your defensive position plan, it will help give you (or your prepping group) structure, which is very important.

SLLS, And How to Use It

SLLS is an acronym that stands for Stop, Look, Listen, and Smell (pronounced “Sills”). This technique is incredibly useful for when you’re in an unknown environment, or in the woods on your way to your bug out location. While there’s not enough information on SLLS to make it an article on its own, it’s still very important to know how to use this technique taught to Infantrymen.

Stop

When you’re on the move and you feel like something isn’t right, or when you want to scope out a new area. You can’t expect to truly hone into your senses, if you’re still on the move. If you’re in a group, use hand signals (there will be an article on that as well). Try not to make too much noise getting everyone to stop, otherwise if a threat is close by they’ll notice right away. Make your silhouette smaller by taking a knee, or even going prone.

Look

Look around your surrounding environment first. You should observe the area around you, then look up. Not all threats will be on the ground with you, so you should be aware of your vertical surroundings as well. After you’ve scanned the area around you, scan the area in the distance. Use binoculars (or a scope) if you can. You should be looking for anything that appears abnormal, including movement.

Listen

Remain silent when you use SLLS, any noise from you or your group can make listening to your environment difficult. Listen for any abnormal sounds such as twigs snapping, birds taking flight, animals rushing away. These signs point to a potential threat, and you should take more caution when more signs present themselves.

Smell

Take a moment and smell the air around you. If you can smell tobacco smoke, or cologne (deodorant too), these are definite signs that a potential threat is within 100m of you. Most scents dissipate after 100m, although there are some instances where they can travel longer. If you smell signs of another human, take caution. Remember, a post-collapse environment will spread mass panic, and panic makes people do the unspeakable.

Physical Training (PT)

How many warfighters do you see that are fat, lazy, and out of shape? Not many, so if you want to survive in a chaotic environment post-collapse, you need to start training now. This segment will go over the 4 major areas you should be training, and why. If getting in shape for prepping doesn’t motivate you enough, maybe looking great while you do it will.

Legs

Our legs are what allows us to move, so why would you neglect them in your PT routine? To train for prepping, all of your PT should be geared towards strength, and endurance. Make sure you train your calves, hamstrings, hip-flexors, quads, and glutes. You need to engage every muscle group when you train for endurance, as it trains your muscles to be under strain for long periods of time.

Core

You engage your core in the smallest of bodily functions (like getting out of bed), so you can imagine how much you’ll be using it when SHTF. Work on abdominal endurance exercises like planks, burpees, and flutter-kicks. These exercises help your core gain strength, as well as prepare them for extreme strenuous activity.

Upper-Body

You need to have upper-body strength post-collapse, there’s no question about it. If you don’t, you could be too weak to lift heavy items when it matters the most. You should strengthen your chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and your back (upper and lower). Never neglect a single muscle group, because for most lifts in a real-world environment, you will engage all of these muscles. Keep your workouts focused on strength and endurance.

Cardio

Most people dread working on cardio, and for a good reason… it sucks. However, you need to think of it this way, would you rather suck more in a gym, or when your life depends on it? If you start training cardio now, your body will thank you when you really kick it into overdrive when SHTF.

An excellent cardio endurance workout is sprints. Long-distance running is pointless, and time consuming. Not to mention you’re filling your body with too much lactic acid and you can tear a muscle. Sprints are a great way to keep your heart rate up, as well as strengthen your leg muscles.

Stretching is a very important aspect of physical training; neglecting stretching can make you more prone to injuries. I highly recommend buying a foam roller, they are inexpensive, and available at most retail stores like Walmart. Foam rollers come with instructions on how to use them, and it’s very simple and effective for stretching stubborn muscles that like to tighten up.

You should hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds, any less than that and you’re not really engaging your muscles in a good stretch. Never neglect stretching, you don’t want to pull a muscle or catch a cramp when you’re relying on your body the most.

Wrap-Up

As an Infantryman, there are many lessons that I’ve been taught (some easy, and some hard). The most important lesson of all, however, is that everything is “mental”. What this means is, no matter how hard something is, you can do it if you tell yourself you can. Your body only has one limit, your mind. If you stay organized, keep a routine, and take my advice into consideration, you’ll find that life as a prepper doesn’t have to be so hard.

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